The war against alcohol

April 23rd, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

In my weekly Dispatch from St Johnnysburg at 24/7 I write:

The anti- industry (and it is an industry – mainly taxpayer funded) will be delighted by the ’s report when it is released on Tuesday. They have succeeded in convincing the Law Commission that should be treated in the same way as tobacco – an evil to be heavily discouraged, if not prevented.

I focus on how the role of the Law Commission has changed from quiet diligent updating of laws to:

Sir has morphed back into his former role of a crusading politician, and has spent months talking about the evils of alcohol. He even went out to Courtenay Place with a Police escort, and said he saw scenes that “no civilized society can relish”.

I end up at Courtenay Place around once a month on average. Often until well past 2 am. Sometimes there to dance and party with friends, but often just to carry on chatting politics and life over a few drinks. I’ve never seen these scenes “no civilised society can relish”.

The crusading was not restricted to New Zealand. Sir Geoffrey even went to Australia, and spoke at an Australian Drug Foundation conference. Not the Minister., ot the Director-General of Health, but the Law Commission President. The 68 year old Sir Geoffrey decried the fact that people put photos from parties up on Facebook. He wants an end to people getting drunk – an endeavour that would be as likely to succeed as prohibition succeeded in the 1930s.

I await the proposal to ban photos from Facebook which show alcohol.

The full article is subscriber content at NBR.

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60 Responses to “The war against alcohol”

  1. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    In 1939 we went to war with Germany, not “blitzkrieg”.

    the problem is not alocohol. How many 40 year old officer workers to you see throwing bottles at the cops? The problem is young assholes with a sense of entitlement.

    Try going to war with the problem instead of carpet bombing the concept.

    Target misindetification is a war crime.

    See what happens when you use analogy.

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  2. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,069 comments) says:

    alcohol should be treated in the same way as tobacco – an evil to be heavily discouraged, if not prevented.

    Alcohol is considerably more harmful than tobacco. No one is saying we should go back to prohibition (straw man), just that our laws around alcohol should recognise that it is a powerful and dangerous drug, and that widespread public abuse of the drug imposes large costs on our public health and criminal justice systems.

    [DPF: I disagree with your view. There is a fundamental difference between tobacco and alcohol. Tobacco kills you. Apart from stress relief it has no redeeming characteristics. Tobacco is bad for you, no matter how much you use it.

    Alcohol is not the same. Alcohol can in fact be healthy for you, and more to the point, gives many many people a great time with no lasting ill effects.

    Also tobacco is highly addictive. A small minority of people are alcoholics but I would say 95% of smokers want to and try to give up smoking. Most drinkers are quite happy drinking, and do not cause problems doing so]

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  3. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    Not to support the recommendations of the Law Commission but I have done a bit of drinking in Wellington from time to time and I would have to say things can get to a point of “un-relish”. More the heaving hordes of drunken people who don’t actually seem to go anywhere or have any great purpose than overt fights etc. Although how could some pompous prat with a police escort not attract some unrelish from passers by?

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  4. redeye (629 comments) says:

    Judging by your stance DFP you’d be happy to legalise most other drugs? Were you a supporter of party pills being made illegal?

    [DPF: No]

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  5. Put it away (2,878 comments) says:

    It’s well past time for Palmer to retire. This is much like old prudes and sex – once they get too old to do it themselves, they want to make sure no one else is having any.

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  6. GPT1 (2,122 comments) says:

    And a really valid point about the anti alcohol industry. It would be interesting to know how many taxpayers dollars are going into attacking the industry itself. I guess there are grey areas such as ‘the how we are drinking ads’ and alcohol helplines but it seems to me that there is a cadre of taxpayer funded do-gooders similar to the prohibitionists of the 30s. Dorks.

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  7. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    The national booze-up is about to end. Hic, hic hooray!

    Before it does, DPF, try participating in the politics talk fests in the wee small hours while you are stone cold sober and the others are lubricated. What seemed intellectual light and stimulation may well prove to have been just illusion.

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  8. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Fuck these holier then tho arseholes always trying to turn New Zealand into a sterile, no fun must be had state. I’m tied of these fucks, one must not smoke, one must not eat this or that, one must not drink. I really have to wonder what sort of boring socialist hell hole NZ would be if everyone did everything these wankers wanted. And what hurts most is I hoped I had voted in a government that would have the nuts to tell these scumbags to keep out of our lives, in other words stop funding the pricks. As Murry correctly states it’s government to the lowest common denominator.

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  9. Razork (375 comments) says:

    DPF, I await the photos (video would be better) of you dancing.

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  10. davidp (3,581 comments) says:

    >I’ve never seen these scenes “no civilised society can relish”.

    I live one block away from Courtenay Place and I’ve never seen anything other than people out on the town and enjoying themselves. I’ve never needed a Police escort at any stage. Maybe Palmer was not actually there to observe, but to preach to people about their sinful ways and how they should abandon drink, cameras, and FaceBook and discover Jesus. Or spend their free hours working for a trade union or the Labour Party. You couldn’t blame people for wanting to take a swing at the sad moralising windbag.

    I suspect that Palmer is actually opposed to fun.

    >The 68 year old Sir Geoffrey decried the fact that people put photos from parties up on Facebook.

    This is beyond parody. A person who makes a statement like this is clearly not in touch with the modern world.

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  11. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    I wonder how much alcohol Sir Geoffrey and his law commission minions consumed over the course of their earnest deliberation over this issue? Any late night discussions over an Armagnac or two?

    @david – just for the record it’s possible to drink, use cameras, use FaceBook and discover Jesus :)

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  12. Pete George (23,578 comments) says:

    I’m glad digital cameras and Facebook weren’t around when I was off my face, or flat on my face.

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  13. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    Sideshow bob at 10.54

    …’m tied of these fucks, one must not smoke, one must not eat this or that, one must not drink. ..

    No-one’s saying you must not drink Bob. It’s just about controlling the mess booze is making of young people.

    Alcohol’s a drug. It can be a civilised addition to life, as in the wine at the Last Supper. Or it can be devastating as in the gin craze in London from the late 17th century as Britain encouraged distilling to offset imports of foreign liquor. Hogarth’s famous cartoon showed it all. It famously includes a sign: “Drunk for a penny, Dead drunk for twopence, Clean straw for nothing”

    Talk to police, to ambulance and emergency ward staff, to the Salvation Army, and you will see that NZ has a booze problem currently. Let’s hope the Government reins it in.

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  14. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    …it is a powerful and dangerous drug, and that widespread public abuse of the drug imposes large costs on our public health and criminal justice systems

    Don’t disagree. I watched a Campbell Live segment on Accident & Emergency department load caused by blind drunk idiots injuring themselves and others. The story matched my A&E experience having been in with injured relatives on weekend evening recently. If patients blow 2x the legal driving limit then the bill them for their treatment. If they don’t pay, fine them. And put 100% of the revenue back into the health system.

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  15. Brian Smaller (4,023 comments) says:

    Geoffrey Palmer is one of those people whose mere voice is enough to make me start shouting at the radio. The guy is an out-of-touch egg-head with no idea of life outside of his privelged existence. What a twonk.

    When the drinking age was 20 me and my mates regularly drank ourselves stupid at Mt Maunganui where we lived and we were 16. It is something that a lot of kids do – a right of passage perhaps (even if a stupid one) .

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  16. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,069 comments) says:

    If patients blow 2x the legal driving limit then the bill them for their treatment. If they don’t pay, fine them. And put 100% of the revenue back into the health system.

    One problem with this is that these are people who are frequently unable to meet those costs, often because they’ve spent all their money on alcohol. The other problem is that most binge drinkers (~25% of the population) don’t end up in A & E, but do impose huge costs on the health system via the chronic diseases that their lifetime of alcohol abuse exposes them to. That’s why building the cost into the original purchase price of the drink is an optimum solution.

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  17. Nick Archer (136 comments) says:

    Agree with ‘Put it away’ it would be like say someone (MP/bureaucrat/commissioner or whatever) during the prostitution law reform a few years back going to brothels with a Minister (religious one) for moral support as they enter the dens of ill repute to see what the blue ladies of the night get up to…

    This just shows how out of touch Palmer is… I can kind of see where he is coming from but I think being with a cop and not having also other situations in the research samples/info gathering reinforces this (i.e. going out next weekend on his own without a cop as a regular citizen, those kids wouldn’t recognise him as their parents would so he could have gotten away with this). All the sums of each the parts (which individually would be fine) of this report paints him as some kind of prude.

    You could quadruple the total cost of alcohol and alcoholics would still find a way to get their booze, most alcoholism is the ones who stay at home for their tipple or have a bottle of spirits in a drawer at work. That is not going to change with this. The other societal problem with alcohol i.e. kids who haven’t figured it all out yet (their limits) will just pre load at home and then go out for their socialising as most people are social animals and it ain’t cool sitting at home (you don’t get laid for one thing doing that or get social kudos etc).

    I think stronger education and a stronger community response on the ground in problem areas (i.e. your Sallies, Maori Wardens etc liaising with the cops who will just put the drunks into cells to sober up as you would expect) is more of a solution than what might come out of this. Maybe the $2Billion or so that is going be redirected by the Govt to front line staff could address this (there could be certainly measurable outcomes) and I would expect it would be uncontroversial across the whole political spectrum if they do this…

    If they do consider changing the closing hours they will have to look at where this has been done elsewhere (in ChCh and overseas) and see if there are side effects of this (people just going out onto the streets).

    Considering that beer prices have just gone up I would be a bit annoyed if it becomes even more expensive to buy a handle, how I miss the days when you could get $2-3 pints most places (even outside of Happy Hours)…

    Simon Power’s response to questions about all this was less sharp on the news than Bill English, Power has a lot to learn (no wonder Crusher Collins really dominates him)…

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  18. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    That’s why building the cost into the original purchase price of the drink is an optimum solution.

    But we do this now.. and it’s not a solution. And simply raising taxes as has been done for decades doesn’t appear to be a solution either. Perhaps that’s because the 1% who really screw their health are having the 99% of us pick up the cost… so there’s no consequence.

    The principal of having those that make poor decisions (get blink drunk, fall down, get injured) to bear the cost and consequence of those decisions is an important one in my view.

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  19. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    Krazykiwi, you make an excellent point. I have said previously on this blog that alcohol is a huge cost to emergency services. The costs borne by ACC far exceede any revenue they receive by the alcohol industry. Consequently a large portion of my 2% ACC leby on my earnings goes into treating injured drunks and paying compensation for those who become too disabled to work.

    Personally I would like to see ACC levies increased on alcohol at the point of sale. If it means people have to pay more, well that is the price you pay particularly if you expect a good emergency service to be there for you if you injur yourself while under the influence of alcohol. Such a levy when introduced should be coupled with a decrese in ACC earners levies so the real cost of alcohol is more fairly paid for people who consume it. People who only have a couple of drinks a week like myself would be relatively better off.

    I otherwise do not have a problem with people drinking responsibly, I just would like them more accountable for their behaviour.

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  20. Pete George (23,578 comments) says:

    Walking through some of these streets when you are sober may give a different impression. Anyone that has stayed sober while their mates get drunk as usual know that it can lok quite different from that perspective.

    I’ve lived scenes that “no civilised society can relish”, in the old days. Drinking “games” where a bucket is passed around with the bottle. And I’m lucky to be alive, to the extent of no recollection of driving home. I look back and wonder how stupid one can be, once the booze takes over.

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  21. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,069 comments) says:

    Simply raising taxes as has been done for decades doesn’t appear to be a solution either.

    Actually, Raising taxes works REALLY well. In 2008 the Australian’s raised taxes on RTDs by 67% and that led to a 35% reduction in the consumption of those drinks.

    [DPF: But did it lead to less harm? Did they switch to spirits instead?]

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  22. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    KK, governements continuously increased tarriffs on alcohol and cigarettes as it was a way to raise revenue. They were not interested in using it to address the health concerns of these apparent sins. Smokefree compaigns are a relatively new phenomenon. If alcohol did not cause car crashes and kill innocent people there would be no alcohol awareness adds on TV.

    If increased levies on alcohol were to be spent on addressing alcoholism and alcohol related injuries then I am for it. Otherwise it is just taking the piss.

    And for the sake of Darwinism, can they kindly put the methanol back in methylated spirits. In the old days you used to die if you drank a whole bottle. Now you just become paralytically drunk.

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  23. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Wasn’t Palmer a Labour Prime Minister?????????????????????????

    Also drink till you drop , just dont drive, or beat up your wife or kids or the sober guy having dinner with friends , or piss in the doorway of my business, or grab my wife’s tits ( without permission!!) .

    You will never price alcohol off the market when people pay a $100 a point for meth, a price increase is just a tax grab

    Civilian society needs to adopt the Navy definition of drunk , i.e You are responsible for everything you do until you are unconcious, no ifs no buts, take your lumps and we need to insure there are decent lumps. I don’t give a fuck what you say punishment works, gab fests don’t

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  24. Pete George (23,578 comments) says:

    Paul, self-punishment doesn’t seem to work, why should inflicted punishment?

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  25. Danyl Mclauchlan (1,069 comments) says:

    I disagree with your view. There is a fundamental difference between tobacco and alcohol. Tobacco kills you. Apart from stress relief it has no redeeming characteristics. Tobacco is bad for you, no matter how much you use it.

    It’s not MY view, it’s the view of a Lancet study on comparative harmfulness of drugs of abuse: they determined that alcohol is considerably more harmful than nicotine. Tobacco doesn’t ‘kill you’, it increases your risk profile for a number of deadly diseases, as does alcohol.

    Alcohol can in fact be healthy for you, and more to the point, gives many many people a great time with no lasting ill effects.

    The question of whether moderate alchohol consumption is good for you is still open to debate, lobbyists and research groups funded by breweries think it is, most independent medical researchers think it isn’t. Draw your own conclusions.

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  26. Yvette (2,821 comments) says:

    “If alcohol did not cause car crashes and kill innocent people there would be no alcohol awareness adds on TV.”

    Regarding the current anti-alcohol excess ad campaign, has anyone ever told a friend they need to “get their drinking under control”, or is that no different than the useless advice ‘harden up’ to a depressed person. Those who drink excessively more often than not have some psychological pre-disposition to abuse alcohol – self medication which grows to be a handicap greater than what they started out with. Raising the price of alcohol will do nothing for these people except cause them to skimp on other essentials or take to other ways of paying for what they deem necessary.

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  27. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    The actually most common factor in car accidents is CARS. we banning those this week.

    Maybe the actual common factor is still people being idiots. How abnout an IQ or educational based taxation system. Makes as much sense as this example of deck chair shuffling.

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  28. Shunda barunda (2,983 comments) says:

    So just how in the hell are we going to address the problems with alcohol in this country?
    Frankly the people claiming Palmer is out of touch then reminiscing about the good old days, and “right of passage” are far more out of touch than he may be.
    We actually have a serious and developing problem, head in the sand is not an option.

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  29. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    I drink up large on occasion. Never hurt anyone, never damaged anyone’s property.

    The drink is not the problem, it’s those people that can’t handle their drink and act like f*ckwits.
    We need to take a sterner line on drunk and disorderly behaviour. Once people realise that smashing windows or starting a fight down on Courtenay Place = P.D. work or jail time, they will start to rethink those kinds of actions if they know what’s good for them.

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  30. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    Shunda

    We have always had a serious problem with alcohol in this country, we have immature drinking habits.

    What people are saying is how the hell is a 500 page report going to do anything except come with a big fuck off invoice attached for the tax payer to deal with.

    I am just a bit young for the 6 o’clock swill days but remember the mess as a kid, my father and me had a lot worse drinking habits than the majority of young guys to day.

    There has always been problems around grog its just each generation forgets what it was like for them and blames the next lot.

    I am sick to death of everytime there is a problem or percieved problem the government has to deal with it, what about some parental guidance ?. It seems everyone has abidcated all their responsibilities to the government which is generally made up of clowns you wouldn’t employ to mow your lawns.

    (Although I do believe that drinking and driving should feel the full force of statute)

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  31. Repton (769 comments) says:

    I drink up large on occasion. Never hurt anyone, never damaged anyone’s property.

    The drink is not the problem, it’s those people that can’t handle their drink and act like f*ckwits.

    I’m sure plenty of druggies could make that statement about their drug of choice..

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  32. jinpy (226 comments) says:

    I don’t know on what the consensus is on the research, but some doctors are suggesting that what some people would consider quite moderate drinking (2 proper glasses of wine a day) may actually lead to brain damage.

    Beyond the health things, we need to decide as a democracy whether NZ as a whole (as distinct from dysfunctional alcoholics) has an alcohol problem.

    IMO, I think its vaguely pathetic our reliance on alcohol (don’t worry I include myself in that analysis).
    Beyond a glass or two, alcohol makes ‘all’ people to varying degrees obnoxious. Its used as a means to overcome shyness, or is a crutch or an escape in daily life — these things don’t need to be legislated against but they are not exactly positive.

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  33. Pete George (23,578 comments) says:

    I am sick to death of everytime there is a problem or percieved problem the government has to deal with it, what about some parental guidance ?.

    This is a major part of the problem – many think it’s a problem the government should fix, but grizzle about anything the government tries to do to fix it.

    Try a people powered campaign using the Internet.

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  34. Chuck Bird (4,892 comments) says:

    “what about some parental guidance ?. It seems everyone has abidcated all their responsibilities ”

    All political parties except for ACT have undermined parental authority.

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  35. Weihana (4,537 comments) says:

    “The other problem is that most binge drinkers (~25% of the population) don’t end up in A & E, but do impose huge costs on the health system via the chronic diseases that their lifetime of alcohol abuse exposes them to. That’s why building the cost into the original purchase price of the drink is an optimum solution.”

    The cost is already built into the price of alcohol. The numbers are simply being inflated as to the cost alcohol-use inflicts on other people.

    But when are we going to start taxing fatty foods? A Mcdonalds tax with no McDonalds allowed to open after 10pm.

    Then we’ve got to start working on the companies that sell furniture, especially lazy boys. Such disgraceful companies are profiting at the expense of people who are addicted to sitting on their ass. Such lay-abouts are a serious drain on the health system.

    Of course the criminal justice system costs a lot too and it seems to be more Maori than anyone else.. Perhaps a special tax on Maori to pay for it?

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  36. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    It’s not MY view, it’s the view of a Lancet study on comparative harmfulness of drugs of abuse: they determined that alcohol is considerably more harmful than nicotine. Tobacco doesn’t ‘kill you’, it increases your risk profile for a number of deadly diseases, as does alcohol.

    Yip, and MDMA was right near the bottom of the list for harm.

    Unfortunate reality is that drug policy (which include alcohol and tobacoo) has never been based on logic, rather that all drugs are bad mmk, except of course alcohol.

    Personally I believe in a user pays system, so as before no problem with the cost of alcohol increasing to cover its purpoited costs, I will still drink, but I believe it has to be part of a wider review of all drugs so we can have a policy which reflects harms and costs, and reinistates belief in the law. As it is people ignore the law on drugs as what the law is bears no reality to the potential harm done, its a joke.

    However the chance of this ever happening, zero. Hell party pills got banned, for no fricken reason other than the older voting population who actually have all the power not liking it.

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  37. Chuck Bird (4,892 comments) says:

    This rise in excise tax appears to be just another tax grab by National. I wonder if the total tax take will be up or down after income tax reductions and an increase in GST, the ETS scam, this possible excise tax and another type of tax they dream up.

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  38. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    Party pills were banned as some were harming people. There were problems being able to trust that it was really just BZP in them. Most were manufactured in dodgy factories in China. The dosages were inconsistent, meaning it was easy to overdose.

    That said, there are a lot of similarities here to alcohol.

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  39. Manolo (13,783 comments) says:

    Unless a miracle happens this spineless National government will use the spurious Law Commission report to increase excise tax.
    ‘Double Dip’ English will rub his hands with glee, while Neville Key wil wave, smile, and produce meaningless statistics to justify the tax increase. I can almost see it coming.

    It’d only be stopped if Power dismisses the report. If he says he will consider it, we are doomed.

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  40. Shunda barunda (2,983 comments) says:

    We have always had a serious problem with alcohol in this country, we have immature drinking habits.

    Yes and it is about time we finally get motivated to deal with it. NZers have a bad reputation over seas as idiots that can’t handle their piss, second only to Aussies.
    Is this an aspect of our culture that we want to maintain? Drinking to get drunk is immature and always destructive, at the very least to the health of the individual involved, and often to other people and property.
    There seems to be a bit of an attitude from some that the Kiwi drinking culture is a good thing, it isn’t, it is a problem that needs addressing.
    Whether taxing it will work I don’t know, but we have to start some sort of culture shift, it is costing us too much.

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  41. fishe (166 comments) says:

    DPF,

    You seem to have an overly simplistic view of nicotine and alcohol and the issues associated with them. While I can definitely see your point at a superficial level about alcohol having more positive benefits and being “less addictive”, there are some important points worth mentioning here:

    1. alcohol is placed higher than tobacco in the latest carefully constructed scales of harm (e.g. the 2009 report from King’s College London).

    2. tobacco does have many positive aspects for the user – reduced stress, anxiety, hunger, increased energy and of course the many social aspects. These are not just due to the individual being dependent either – for some people, depending on their make up, smoking can be beneficial from the start, especially some of those with co-morbid mental health issues. It can be easy to assume that just because maybe for one personally smoking is horrid and gross, that it is for everyone else too. This is not the case.

    3. nicotine also is not instantly “bad” for the brain/body – no drug is ever this simple. Just like with alcohol, there are new discovered benefits of nicotine, e.g. protective benefits for neurons in parts of the brain.

    Now of course nothing I’ve said negates the well-documented harm caused by tobacco – it generally ranks only a few positions behind alcohol in measures of harm – I’m just providing some extra points here to reduce your seemingly extreme view of “alcohol good, tobacco bad”.

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  42. lofty (1,315 comments) says:

    What do Geoff Palmer & Al Gore have in common?

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  43. Yvette (2,821 comments) says:

    Television campaigns are probably about the only effective measure that may change some unhealthy behaviour. Some have run already where people indicate they have a drinking problem requiring some action when they say “I only feel secure in a social function if I can see drinks available” “I have a few beers and then can’t remember getting home” “My boss at work has had to speak to me” – ads which question the types of drinking and the motivation behind it.

    This type of ad [boring, and of a nanny-state nature to some] could be off-set by dumping some of the useless items currently run, like the two idiots who put the ute down the bank, the “Get the hell off me” ad. That drinking causes some fatal road accidents must be pretty widely known by now and it could be given a rest, in favour of campaigns which might have people ask themselves if they are drinking responsibly, like Can I go a night a week where I don’t drink? or When I do drink at weekends ,do I normally end up drunk?

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  44. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    I end up at Courtenay Place around once a month on average… I’ve never seen these scenes “no civilised society can relish”.

    That’s because Winston now drinks elsewhere :-D

    I think Murray nailed it in the very first comment. Yes, there’s a drinking problem in NZ. But it’s confined to certain strata of society. But yet again we have a kneejerk “one size fits all” reaction which targets the symptom (drunkeness, violence etc) and not the cause (idiocy amongst a small portion of the population).

    As for the debate over health costs, what’s wrong with making any clearly self-inflicted illness or injury a cost against the patient, not the rest of us? That would include the yobbo who drinks till his liver is wrecked, the strapping lad who breaks his collar bone playing rugby, or the Grammar boy who breaks a leg skiing.

    All those things are the foreseeable consequences of your actions. And if you can’t pay, then you do community work to pay off your debt to the state. Or you take private insurance. Or you borrow.

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  45. Yvette (2,821 comments) says:

    “As for the debate over health costs, what’s wrong with making any clearly self-inflicted illness or injury a cost against the patient, not the rest of us? That would include the yobbo who drinks till his liver is wrecked, the strapping lad who breaks his collar bone playing rugby, or the Grammar boy who breaks a leg skiing.”

    i don’t imagine there would be many cases which would be proven to be clearly self-inflicted and this would be another field for litigation.

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  46. krazykiwi (9,186 comments) says:

    I see the uncivilized are organising themselves on Facebook :D

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  47. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Yvette suggests:

    i don’t imagine there would be many cases which would be proven to be clearly self-inflicted and this would be another field for litigation.

    I stand to be corected, but for the examples I’ve given, for instance, I think it’s possible for doctors to tell if liver damage is due to alcohol in most cases. And when some idiot is stretchered off the rugby field with a broken collar bone or off the mountain with a broken leg, I’d say causation is proven beyond a shred of doubt.

    You want to indulge in risk taking behaviour, don’t expect others to pay for it. There’d be some borderline cases go to litigation but provided the courts weren’t shy about awarding costs against people who tried to weasel out of their responsibility I expect they’d be fewe in number, at least after the initial stages.

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  48. tvb (4,425 comments) says:

    People having fun is one thing drunkeness is quite another. BUT I am well in favour of very stern laws against people who are drunk. Firstly it should be illegal to serve an intoxicated person and if caught the bar should be immediately closed until noon the next day – the same for serving a minor. Secondly persons who are intoxicated in a public place should be taken down and sobered up in a detox centre for up to 9 hours. Thirdly a drunk person in a private place and if a complaint is made about their behavior can ALSO be taken to the detox centre for up to 9 hours.

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  49. big bruv (13,906 comments) says:

    It is 4.45pm, I am about to help in the war on alcohol.

    There is a fridge full of booze at my place, in the spirit of Sir Geoffrey’s crusade I will go straight home and make an all out assault on the stuff.

    There may well be a casualty or two, but in the spirit of ANZAC day I am prepared to take that risk.

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  50. Zapper (1,021 comments) says:

    “# Danyl Mclauchlan (759) Says:
    April 23rd, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Simply raising taxes as has been done for decades doesn’t appear to be a solution either.

    Actually, Raising taxes works REALLY well. In 2008 the Australian’s raised taxes on RTDs by 67% and that led to a 35% reduction in the consumption of those drinks.

    [DPF: But did it lead to less harm? Did they switch to spirits instead?]”

    Yep, I must admit, me and my mates never buy RTD’s anymore. It’s about the same price to buy a bottle of spirits as it is to buy 4-6 cans so we buy those instead. And a bottle of spirits has NO potential for harm right?

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  51. JiveKitty (778 comments) says:

    I think Rex has got it in one: “But yet again we have a kneejerk “one size fits all” reaction which targets the symptom (drunkeness, violence etc) and not the cause (idiocy amongst a small portion of the population).”

    So many here are saying it’s a cultural problem, and I tend to agree. Increasing tax doesn’t change that desire to or attitude towards getting blitzed. It just increases the incentive to find another manner in which to do it. (And it pisses off the people who don’t cause any problems and could justifiably say they don’t deserve to be taxed. Taxation is a blunt and probably relatively ineffective instrument when it comes to targeting such social norms as these.) Banning the sale of liquor at off-licenses after 10pm seems a nothing move. The majority of people who have the problem will have started drinking by then. When I was a student, the norm was start at 9pm at the latest and the earliest one would head into town would be 11pm. Again, poor targeting and not dealing with the problem, to say nothing of those who might finish work at odd times and/or do their shopping around then or later. Changing the final entry and closing times also doesn’t deal with the problems that eventuate, it just increases the incentive to start and finish earlier. Increasing the purchase age also doesn’t deal with the cultural problems, and is a bit bizarre in light of the fact that one is fully considered an adult, can vote, join the armed forces, get married and so-on at the age of 18.

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  52. Chuck Bird (4,892 comments) says:

    Hi Rex, I climb mountains. If I should pay how about some guy that takes it up the arse when he is pissed and ends up with HIV? Should he pay?

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  53. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Chuck Bird:

    If that can be proven to be the cause of the infection then yes. Diseases (including those of the liver commonly, but not always, attributable to booze) will always be more problematic than injuries, which usually have a clearly defined cause. But where someone can be proven to have acted recklessly and thus incurred a disease then the same principle should of course apply.

    “Don’t have sex while intoxicated and, if you do, use a condom” has been a message hammered for as long, and just as hard, as “don’t drink and drive”. If people choose to ignore that and f**k themselves up, I’m damned if I feel like funding their indulgence and more than I feel like subsidising your mountaineering.

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  54. Rex Widerstrom (5,354 comments) says:

    Re banning the sale of liquor at off licences at 10pm. In WA that happens at midnight on Saturday.

    So I was astounded when, having had a few drinks at a bar and wanting to drink some more, I suggested to the girls I was with that we take a few drinks back to my place rather than risk driving drunk or someone having to play gooseberry for the rest of the night.

    Sorry, said the bartender, we can’t sell you any to take away, it’s five past midnight. To my question “So… what the lawmakers are saying is that they would prefer me to remain in the CBD drinking, with the attendant risk that I might decide to try and drive home, than to buy alcohol, drive home safely, and get drunk in the safety of my own lounge?” she could only shrug and say (as so many people have since) “Errr… this is WA”. It’s well known as the stupidest state in Australia… let’s not follow its lead.

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  55. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    I’m with Rex
    Nail thsoe who get drunk and disorderly.

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  56. side show bob (3,660 comments) says:

    Jack5 fair enough but I still maintain that most of our society are good people ( for want of better words). I have just returned from the local tavern, felt like a drink after only talking to the family (nice people) for the last six days. Had about 10 handles and a few bourbons. Did not get into a fight, did not spew in the cutter, did not stir up the cops, just talking with my mates. I’m tied of laws that include all because some can not obey the ones set out. Oh yes I drank and then drove (my God) so are guilty of disobeying said laws, no choice. Of course booze causes problems but penalizing all won’t work and speaking personally it just gets my back up as well of my fallow rural dwellers. I other words the more the law and the government try to bend the common man to their will the greater the backlash will be.

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  57. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    I couldn’t believe this when I heard it on the radio.

    Do they want NZ to be a party place when the Rugby World Cup comes to town or a retirement village.

    I admit to once in a while going out till 4am plus on a bender. But I’ve never started a fight, never ended up in Hospital, never been kicked out of a bar and end up having a good time. So why should I and my mates be penalised.

    Also why universally put up tax when all the dick heads causing the problem drink RTD’s.

    I pay tens of thousands in tax and then also have to fork out more to have a quite pint after work.

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  58. Southern Raider (1,831 comments) says:

    Its just like the ban on party pills that worked so well. New ones came out and others just went onto more illegal substances.

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  59. nostromo (29 comments) says:

    Meh, arguments over, tax it to oblivion I’m sick of paying for other people’s messes.

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  60. k.jones (210 comments) says:

    you muppets have already lost this debate – just a matter of how much….

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