New Zealand’s top medical body had called for a clampdown on our rampant boozing, including banning advertising, raising the drinking age, and increasing taxes.
In a “briefing” published on Tuesday, the New Zealand Medical Association says the Government needs to intervene more heavily in the liquor industry for the nation’s collective health.
“We consider it vital to ensure that policies to reduce alcohol-related harm are based on the best available evidence, not on ideology or on the basis of lobbying by vested commercial interests.”
I agree. Ideology does get in the way of evidence. Let’s look at the evidence:
- Alcohol consumption is dropping
- The number of drinkers is dropping
- The number who drink under-age is dropping
- The frequency of drinking is dropping
- Alcohol caused self harm is dropping
- Youth drinking is down massively since 2000
- Youth binge drinking is down since 2000
- Youth drink driving has halved
- 18 – 24 hazardous drinking has dropped a quarter
- ALAC research finds a drop of from 80% to 57% of 15 to 17 year olds who drink
There is of course still significant harm caused by alcohol abuse, just as there is also significant pleasure caused by non abusive consumption of alcohol. What is clear in numerous indicators is the trend is positive. That is not industry research, but data from Stats NZ, the Ministry of Health and ALAC.
But the health activists ignore it, because it is an inconvenient fact.
The association said the liberalisation of drinking laws in 1989, combined with increasingly sophisticated liquor marketing, had encouraged a culture of heavy drinking, which had “resulted in what some researchers term an ‘alcogenic’ environment”.
Actually the WHO has found there has been a reduction in drinking habits in the last 30 years.
Raising the legal alcohol purchasing age, for both on and off-licences, to 20
Parliament has voted four times on this issue in 12 years. Each time it has been for 18, not 20. You’re beating a dead horse.