The Law Commission has been preparing recommendations for Government to consider when it overhauls liquor laws later this year. Extensive public consultation has been undertaken by the Commission, which will release its report next Tuesday.

Various media have reported “leaks” of some of the measures that will be recommended. They include:

  • a 50 percent hike in excise tax
  • a ban on off-licence sales after 10pm
  • raising the drinking age from 18 to 20
  • no one allowed to enter bars and nightclubs after 2am

A so-called “five-plus solution” is promoted by the head of the National Addiction Centre, Professor Doug Sellman. His proposal includes raising alcohol prices, raising the purchase age, reducing alcohol accessibility, reducing marketing and advertising, plus increased treatment opportunities for heavy drinkers.

Hopefully there is sufficient public concern and political will for changes to be enacted.

In that light, it’s constructive that Alcohol Action Hawke’s Bay is sponsoring a public assembly next Monday night (Apr 26th), 7pm at the Memorial Rooms Clive Square, Napier.

Dr Caroline McElnay, Director of Population Health, HBDHB, will speak on alcohol and health in Hawke’s Bay. Maxine Boag, Napier City Councillor will discuss the 5+ Solution for Law Reform. MP Chris Tremain will discuss the situation in Parliament and hopefully his stance on changing the liquor laws.

As Maxine says, this could be “our once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to influence liquor Law reform.”

Here’s an excellent chance to get informed and make your views known to our elected representatives.

Tom Belford

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7 Comments

  1. I fail to comprehend how a 50% increase in excise tax will slow down consumption. The other measures I do agree with and maybe we should have closing time of 2.00am.

  2. I agree with Nigel Watkins post.

    Excise tax increases twice a year as it is and ,the increase in GST will hurt enough.

    The price and tax/levy increases on tobacco products over the years do not seem to have helped that problem so how is it going to solve the booze problem?

    I'm nearly 70yrs of age and enjoy a beer. Why price alcohol out of my range?

  3. Thanks for your comments, which probably reflect what a lot of people think.

    However, all the research has shown that an increase in tobacco prices including excise tax has had a dramatic effect on consumption. It has been used as a means of reducing smoking in many countries.

    Excise tax also gives the government some money to pay for the harm done by tobacco and in this case alcohol.

    ALAC, in their paper "the Social Cost of Alcohol Abuse" say

    "While it is a difficult and complex task to attribute a cost to alcohol abuse or misuse two recent studies looked at the costs in New Zealand. BR.Easton (2002) estimated that the sum of social costs of alcohol harm range from $1 billion to $4 billion per year.

    It cost the public health sector $655 million, crime and related costs added up to $240 million, social welfare $200 million and other alcohol-harm related government spending $330 million.

    Lost productivity alone cost New Zealand $1.17 billion a year (Easton 2002)

    http: //www.alac.org.nz/CampaignItsNotTheDrinking"

    In the Law Commission's "Alcohol in our Lives" they say that "comprehensive research indicates that a 10 per cent increase in price is likely to see alcohol consumption drop by 5 per cent;" and that "Raising the price of alcohol reduces harmful consumption by young people (who generally have less income and are more price sensitive.) Raising the price also delays the starting age of drinking and slows down young people's progression to binge or heavier drinking." (p 263)

    Our government currently collects $800 million in excise tax on alcohol (compare with the costs above) and only $70 million of that goes into treatment for people needing help with this addiction.

    Our nation's heavy drinking is doing a lot of damage that we are all paying for.

    Nothing wrong with drinking per se, but we must introduce some sensible laws that will help curb its excessive use and the harm it is doing to a lot of people.

  4. Maxine, alcohol consumption has already reduced. An 'addiction,' only since the forties when the american medical association decided to change it from a moral issue to a medical one … money in there somewhere.

    & to associate it with tobacco … smoking in NZ has reduced, lung cancers .. oh no.

    A 'binge' drinking culture? Obviously in our youth we were worse, we must have been because per capita consumption has reduced.

    Alac is a struggling 'wannaget' more finance institution and the best way to achieve that is by emotional (mis)representation.

    Correlations and imputed 'social costs' are the tools by which this agenda is perpetuated.

    Wowserism aint a good look, especially in a wine producing region.

    If you want a good cause Maxine … air quality … what is occurring in the Hawkes Bay, sanctioned by the Regional Council, is a travesty.

  5. I agree with Brian King. Tobacco and alcohol have been steadfastly taxed to the max over the years in the UK & America and many other countries – with little to no decrease in consumption at all! The working man was always the Tory goverment's main target-beer & smokes. Not cigars!

    Maxine may have all the fancy words (some I have never heard of) and platitudes……….and good on her.

    However, I do not believe in the tooth fairy! Therefore I do not believe any government tax hike on alcohol or tobacco products revenue will end up being used for the treatment of the abusers!

    Not being least bit negative – but real!

    Tell us why should the "responsible" social drinker, many of whom are retired folk, many who have barely money left over now to buy a wee drink for themselves, be yet further punished by paying heaps, heaps more … simply because of idiots who can't handle it and abuse it?

    Just take a ride around the supposed lower socio-economic suburbs of Napier during the day before kerbside recycling day to see the mountains of empties. I guarantee if there is any further government increase in tax revenue, the mountain of empties will still remain the same, if not bigger!

    With unemployment rising. The real scourge of our society is unemployment, not alcohol – idle hands and all that. The only thing that an increase will achieve is an increase in crime!

    Granted, it may be quite acceptable for Cr Boag on council to advocate and welcome an excessive price hike on alcohol – especially when they on council get all their alcohol for FREE! Courtesy of the iratepayer. A blatant case of double standards – I'm alright Jack!

    Sincerely David Bosley

  6. Having been accused of both wowserism and hypocrisy, may I respond?

    First of all, I am not trying to demonise the liquor industry (of which you are/were part, Morton, as a winemaker and seller) as they are running their businesses legally within the present law. I am simply making the case for a change to the law, along the lines of what I have seen from the Law Commission's report.

    Second, Dave, Napier City Councillors now contribute $100 annually each personally to offset some of the costs of alcohol consumed during council functions. This may not have been the case when you were on Council. For me, I don't drink alcohol at all, for personal health reasons, but still pay the $100 (which buys a lot of lemonade!) so feel your attack on me is unjustified.

    For those readers interested in the suggestions made by the Law Commission to reduce some of the harm done by our current drinking behaviour, you can read the Law Commissions report (which was relesed yesterday) on their website http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/

    I hope that many of your readers will become informed on this important issue and make submissions on the new Liquor Bill when it gets to the Select Committee stage.

  7. Aha, quite right Maxine, 'awash' for some 25 years perhaps … but also worked for some years in the addiction centre, albeit some time ago now … and perhaps as many as twenty years doing emergency call outs for the local psychiatric services, when one attended alone, often called out by the police who, as soon as you arrived, did a 'runner' and left you 'holding the can.' Often with drunk or drug affected individuals, and a situation that had to be satisfactorily resolved … and for approximately ten years as sole consultant to the Corrections Department, and then there was the court work.

    There is no misperception of the issues involved in alcohol fuelled conflict nor the association of alcohol in effecting crime, aside from the intent being there priorly, alcohol 'oiling' the operation, so to speak.

    My issue is with the veracity of the data on which this platform is based … there is something amiss here.

    And 'a liquor industry of which I am/were part ..,' yes, but I think local air quality may have dealt a savage hand to that.

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