25 August 2011
Govt fails binge-drinking youths
The Government’s Alcohol Reform Bill stills fails to address advertising, sponsorship and price issues, despite these being the underlying drivers of New Zealand’s entrenched drinking culture, the Green Party says.
Green Party MP and alcohol spokesperson Sue Kedgley said those key issues had been highlighted by public submissions on the proposed law while it was being discussed at Select Committee, but the Government had ignored the advice.
“Submitters on the Bill were absolutely clear that price is the single most important issue in reducing our binge drinking culture,” she said.
“It’s disappointing that the Bill does nothing to stop supermarkets from engaging in the predatory practice of selling alcohol at extraordinarily cheap prices to lure customers, especially young customers, into their stores.
“We’ll never reduce our binge drinking culture if we allow alcohol to be sold so cheaply that young people can load up for binge drinking sessions every weekend.
Ms Kedgley said she was also disappointed the Bill fails to deal with saturation advertising and sponsorship of alcohol.
“It is extraordinary that we allow a legalised drug to be heavily marketed and advertised to teenagers and young people.
“Alcohol advertising glamorises and normalises alcohol and acts as a powerful recruiter of young drinkers. It also creates enormous peer pressure on young people to drink.
“We want to see tobacco-style restrictions of alcohol advertising across all media, and a phasing out of alcohol sponsorship.”
Ms Kedgley said she assumed the Government’s reluctance to deal with these issues was because of pressure from vested interests in the hospitality, food, liquor and advertising industries.
“We are also very concerned that the Bill does not call for mandatory labels warning that alcohol can cause foetal alcohol syndrome,” she said.
“Around 500 babies are being born every year with foetal alcohol syndrome.
“We want to see warning labels as part of a wider campaign to warn women, and especially young women, of the risks of drinking while pregnant.”