Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:
Liquor industry executives have met Justice Minister Judith Collins and urged her to quash a law change which will ban the sale of high-strength “alcopops” in bottle stores. …
In May, the minister said there was a growing concern about sweet-tasting drinks that were high in alcohol.
In the Law Commission report the reforms were based on, the commission said the most common drinkers of RTDs were 14 to 24-year-olds, in particular women.
Actually the Law Commission did not recommend any measures specifically against RTDs. They correctly said that if you did this, then substitution is likely to occur. The Government inserted this proposal in the bill – it was not recommended by the Law Commission.
I blogged last year that Curia did some extensive research work for Independent Liquor in this area. The findings (from a phone poll, two point of sale surveys and half a dozen focus groups) were that around half of RTD drinkers but 8% RTDs and around half 5% RTDs. Of those who buy 8% RTDs (and they tend to be older men, not young women), many said that if RTDs are restricted to 5%, they would substitute to other products such as spirits.
We found that the average strength of a self-mix is 13% (and that is at the beginning of the night – it increases during the night), so what the proposed law change will do is move many RTD drinkers from an 8% product to a 13% product. Stupid right? This part of the bill will, in my opinion, significantly increase harm from alcohol.
Australia tried something similiar – what they did was put a special tax on RTDs. Sure enough, RTD sales dropped. But sales of spirits increased.