Friday 15 November 2019
Majority of New Zealanders Drinking Responsibly And Less, But More Work Needed to Reduce Harmful Drinking
NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) says the majority of New Zealanders drink responsibly and generally Kiwis and young
people are drinking less, but there is more work to be done to reduce harmful drinking, in response to the recent
results of the National Health Survey .
“Eighty percent of New Zealanders who drink alcohol are drinking in a responsible way. Drinking behaviours are changing
and we are drinking 25% less than we did in the 1970’s and 80’s . We are also seeing a significant reduction in drinking
especially amongst young people,” says Bridget MacDonald, NZABC’s Executive Director.
“It’s going to take time and an all-of-society approach to make bigger shifts in New Zealand’s drinking culture, but we
are seeing positive changes in attitudes, more no- and low- alcohol options, and momentum for change is gaining,” she
The survey shows that while 58.3% of 15- to 17-year-olds drank alcohol in the past year, we are still seeing a large
decrease (-16.2%) in young people drinking, down from 74.5% in 2006/07. In the wider group of young people aged 15-24
years, drinking has declined 7% from 83.8% in 2006/7 to 76.8% in 2018/19.
NZABC says the industry has zero-tolerance for underage drinking, and acknowledges drinking too much alcohol can cause
harm, and that more needs to be done to accelerate the changes and reduce harmful drinking.
The current hazardous drinking measure has only been surveyed for 4 years making any long-term trends difficult to
establish. However, since collecting the data in 2015/16, there has been a reduction in hazardous drinking in the
following age brackets:
15-24 years (-2.6%), 18-24 years (-1.7%), 25-34 years (-2.3%), 45-54 years (-0.8%).
Bridget MacDonald says, “We all have a part to play in reducing harmful drinking and ensuring those who choose to drink
do so responsibly, moderately and safely. This needs the collective effort of parents, family, friends, schools and
universities, workplaces, NGOs, local and central government, and the alcohol industry too. We need to tackle reducing
harmful drinking through targeted education and support programmes, which are critical to educating young people on
alcohol harm and encouraging adults to drink responsibly.”
Two youth-focused education programmes are already helping young Kiwis to make better decisions around alcohol and to
delay drinking. The Smashed Project
is a theatre-based education programme that equips to Year 9 students to deal with real life situations where there may
be peer pressure to drink alcohol. Since launching in May, more than 20,000 students across New Zealand now have a
better understanding of the negative effects of alcohol, how to make better choices for themselves, and where to find
help if they need it. The partnership between Life Education Trust and The Tomorrow Project (Cheers NZ), which is funded
by in part by NZABC members Spirits New Zealand and the Brewers’ Association, is aiming to roll out the programme to all
60,000 Year 9 students in 2020.
Cheers NZ (cheers.org.nz
) also delivers social marketing initiatives to shift parents’ attitudes towards underage drinking and to support them
in being better role models.