The benefits of booze

July 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Matt Heath writes in the NZ Herald:

A terrible injustice has befallen commercial radio. A change in the law has stopped us giving away alcohol on air.

Campaigners have convinced the Government that a sniff of free booze will instantly turn Kiwis into alcoholics and criminals. I’m not so sure.

Like most Kiwis I enjoy a drink. In fact, I love a drink. I’m having a beer as I write this. But I am not an alcoholic and I don’t have a drinking problem. My drinking is more like a hobby. Sadly, like all pastimes, work and family commitments keep me away from it. …

Anti-alcohol campaigners turn a blind eye to the good booze does in the community. You only have to go to a restaurant to hear the happiness it brings. People laughing and enjoying each other’s company. You can’t put these good people in the same boat as a bastard who beats his family.

Indeed they do often overlook the immense enjoyment most adults get from alcohol.

Campaigners use the terribly behaved to beat up on the slightly naughty. They use the sick to hassle the healthy; their bad experiences to limit the good experiences of others. If the alcohol debate was a weather report then light breezes would be the same as hurricanes, spring showers would become weather bombs and Jim Hickey would lose his job.

The reality is there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting sauced. No crime in catching a taxi home because you’ve had too many. Nearly every newsreader, reporter, politician and police officer has.

There is no shame in drinking, dancing, singing and enjoying the company of other humans.

Sure you could do all those things without alcohol. But thankfully we live in a country where we don’t have to.

Well not yet, but the wowsers are doing their best.

The only thing I would change is to have an app on your smartphone that won’t allow you to text or call people if your breath alcohol is over a certain level. That would have saved me a lot of grief in the last month!

But what of the social cost? Domestic violence, drunk drivers, burglary, assault, couch burning and firetrucking. I’m not doing any of those things. I bet you aren’t either.

I might slur “you’re my best mate” and turn the music up till it distorts. But I never stab people or rob their houses. Bad behaviour is a dickhead problem not a booze problem.

Let’s celebrate the good alcohol does in the community. The new guy who becomes fast friends over work drinks. The shy couple who gain the courage to talk to each other for the first time. The diplomats who seal a deal for the country at the bar after a conference. The victorious sports team singing the national anthem after everyone has gone home.

Celebrating booze – I love it.

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An alcohol report that got little publicity

May 19th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The World Health Organisation has just released its 2014 report on alcohol and health. It seems to have had almost no publicity here – possibly because it doesn’t support the claims of certain groups that NZ alcohol stats are really bad on a world scale. Some extracts you may not see elsewhere:

  • Far from there being a catastrophic rise in alcohol abuse in New Zealand there has been a real reduction in drinking habits in the last 30 years.   There was a sharp increase in total alcohol consumption per capita from 1970 through the early 1980s, then a sharp drop from 1985 through the late 1990s, and a slight upward trend since then.  So things are not worse than they have ever been…in fact they are a lot better.
  • The amount consumed per drinker, New Zealand ranks around 96th (13.7 litres of pure alcohol per capita).  This ranks us slightly higher than France (at 12.9 litres) and slightly lower than the UK (at 13.8 litres).  So on average, we are a nation of fairly moderate drinkers.
  • We are constantly told that we have a “binge drinking” culture in New Zealand, but our rates of prevalence of heavy episodic drinking (classified as more than 6 standard drinks on at least one occasion in the past 30 days) is actually very low by global standards.  The prevalence rate of heavy drinking for New Zealand was 5.6%.  This is more than half that of Australia (13.6%), more than a quarter that of Canada (23.1%), and more than a sixth that of the United Kingdom (33.4%). So when you hear the claim we have 800,000 hazardous drinkers, it is quite a gross exaggeration (as the scare mongers here use a different definition).

Of course there are problems caused by alcohol abuse in New Zealand, and these should be mitigated if it can be done in a way where the benefits exceed the costs. But the narrative that NZ has an awful drinking problem, and it is much worse than in the past – is not true.

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Nanny Auckland

May 12th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Auckland risks becoming a “nanny city” compared to party-friendly Wellington if a proposal to cut bar hours is adopted, a city councillor has warned.

Hot on the heels of new national 4am closing hours for bars, the Auckland Council wants to close Auckland pubs and clubs even earlier – at 3am in the city and Ponsonby, and 1am everywhere else.

Bars would not be able to sell shooters, shots or many cocktails after midnight throughout most of the city and not after 1am in city and Ponsonby bars.

The council’s proposed local alcohol policy, set to be approved for public consultation tomorrow, also specifies more restrictive hours for off-licences by limiting alcohol sales to not before 9am and not after 10pm.

National laws that began in December 2013 set off-licence hours from 7am to 11pm.

Auckland city councillor Cameron Brewer lashed out at the proposals and said Wellington would be the biggest winner from the proposed policy.

“This policy will make a joke of council’s latest marketing campaign that promotes Auckland as ‘the show that never stops’.”

Auckland has also made the same mistake as many other Councils and not distingished between types of off-licenses.  There’s a difference between people going into a bottle store to buy more spirits for a party and people wanting to buy a bottle of wine at the same time as they are doing their weekly groceries shopping. The proposed Auckland policy will inconvenience many responsible shoppers and drinkers – while not actually reducing alcohol abuse. A more targeted policy could reduce the inconvenience with no trade off in terms of reducing alcohol abuse.

Brewer said Auckland’s “puritan” laws had taken the new powers “to the extreme”. Events like champagne breakfasts for the Rugby World Cup or Commonwealth Games would become illegal with new minimum opening hours of 9am, he said.

Brewer said the limiting of off-licence hours would annoy a lot of people.

“Wine and beer will be roped off like we used to have in the old days when you couldn’t buy alcohol from supermarkets on Sundays. It’s ‘back to the future’ stuff,” he said.

“Mum and dad shoppers won’t be able to buy wine or beer with their weekly groceries before 9am and after 10pm.

“It makes no sense, particularly the morning ban . . . These grocery shoppers are not the problem.”

Exactly.

But councillor George Wood, who supported the proposal, said on-licence operators would be able to apply for extensions after a 12-month trial.

George is of course a former Police commander, and the Police view is that nothing good ever happens at 3 am. That’s an appalling view. I’ve been in town many times after 3 am with friends – and none of us have ever caused problems.

Wood said the Wellington City Council proposed 3am in its draft but 5am was adopted after consultation.

So will the Auckland Council listen, like Wellington did?

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Crampton on alcohol prices

April 30th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Eric Crampton blogs:

Imagine that hazardous drinkers really really cared about the price of alcohol. If you increased the price of alcohol just a little bit, they’d stop drinking harmfully. Imagine further that moderate drinkers didn’t respond very much to prices: what does it matter to the rich Chardonnay-sipping set if a bottle is $8 or $40? If that were the true state of the world, we would have a very simple solution to alcohol problems: hike excise taxes. Harmful drinkers would stop drinking and would stop doing alcohol-related harmful things; moderate drinkers would pay more but that would just be tax revenue for the government. Since they wouldn’t change their consumption by very much, deadweight costs would be pretty small relative to the harms avoided. Yay taxes!

But is the assumption that heavy drinkers are more price response true?

Unfortunately, the world don’t quite look like that. Our best evidence on it remains Wagenaar’s metastudyshowing that heavy drinkers respond to a 10% price hike by reducing consumption by 2.8%; average consumption drops by 4.4% with the same price increase. Moderate drinkers respond more to price increases than do heavy drinkers.

The answer is no.

Enter the NZ Government report on excise and minimum pricing. Fortunately, the Minister has more sense than her Ministry and hasn’t gone ahead with minimum pricing; hopefully, she’s not looking at excise. What’s the problem with the report? They started by assuming that heavy drinkers are more responsive to prices than are moderate drinkers.

So why would you assume something that is not backed by the evidence?

And they know it’s wrong. Here, at Table 5, they show the general consensus of the international literature: heavy drinkers don’t respond to prices nearly as strongly as do moderate drinkers. …

Bottom line: heavy drinkers are roughly half as responsive to prices as are moderate drinkers. That’s page 20. And they cite Byrnes accurately at page 21.

So they know their assumptions are wrong, yet they still used them?

But then what do they go and do? They started by trying to get SHORE to estimate NZ elasticities, but something went wrong there: the elasticities were completely out of whack with reality. Reading between the lines at page 25, it looks like SHORE was using the increase in purchases of products on special at supermarkets as part of its price elasticity estimation, and that just ain’t right. If you switch brands because something’s on special and buy more of it than you otherwise would have, that isn’t the same effect as you’d expect for across-the-board price changes you get with excise or minimum pricing.

Way different things. I might buy more Coke rather than Pepsi when Coke is on sale. But that doesn’t mean if the price of both Coke and Pepsi increases that I’ll buy less overall.

The report agrees the NZ figures are wrong:

“It was decided that the significant reductions in consumption estimated using NZ elasticity estimates are not a realistic representation of what is likely to happen in reality and are contrary to all international evidence of the responsiveness of alcohol consumers to changes in price.”

Yet …

Rather than discard the completely nuts NZ numbers, they let those figures stand and added alternative numbers as robustness checks. Those big headline estimates you’ve been seeing in the papers about just how awesome excise is? They’re based on the numbers that, according to the report, “are not a realistic representation in reality and are contrary to all international evidence of the responsiveness of alcohol consumers to changes in price.

Example? A 133% excise hike means about a 40% increase in the cost of low-priced beer, a 44% increase in the cost of low-priced wine, a 45% increase in the cost of low-priced RTDs, and a 103% increase in the price of low-cost spirits. The heavy drinkers SHORE estimated a 61% reduction in harmful consumers’ consumption with that tax hike. So they’re saying that harmful consumers are more than unit elastic. That’s just not right.

I’m glad we have someone who can analyse these reports, and point out the errors in them. we run the risk of flawed decisions being made on the basis of flawed analysis.

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No minimum price for alcohol

April 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Judith Collins announced:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has received the Ministry of Justice report, The Effectiveness of Alcohol Pricing Policies.

The report considers options for a minimum pricing regime and the possible costs and benefits.

Ms Collins says the Government will not be introducing minimum pricing on alcohol as this would hit moderate drinkers in the pocket when there is no compelling evidence that increasing the price of alcohol is the correct approach.

The Government will allow time for the new alcohol reforms to bed in and to assess their impacts, including the development and implementation of Local Alcohol Policies which are likely to take up to two years to come into full effect.

Ms Collins says the Government’s changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act aimed to strike a sensible balance to curb the harm of alcohol abuse without penalising moderate drinkers.

“New Zealanders who drink responsibly and moderately should not be unfairly targeted. Introducing a minimum pricing regime would see alcohol companies earn around $131m extra a year at the $1.20 minimum price point,” says Ms Collins.

The alcohol companies will be hoping Labour wins office as their former spokesperson, Lianne Dalziel, demanded that there be a minimum price of $2 a standard drink. This would mean it would be illegal to sell a bottle of wine for under $15 a bottle.

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I suspect they don’t live in rural areas

March 16th, 2014 at 5:44 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Several groups including the Salvation Army and Alcohol Healthwatch said that New Zealand should set a long-term goal of banning any drinking before driving.

Which may work for people who live close to bars, but would mean people in country areas could never go out to dinner and have a wine with dinner.

Personally I think it is silly to say that it should be a criminal offence to drive after having a glass of wine with dinner.

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Alcohol arithmetic

February 26th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Rising economic confidence and “aggressive” marketing techniques are the driving factors behind an 8.9 million litre rise in alcohol availability last year, says one concerned health organisation.

Latest figures from Statistics New Zealand, which compared figures over the last five years, show the total volume of alcohol available in New Zealand rose to 466 million litres last year – the equivalent of 2.1 standard drinks per person aged 18 and over per day.

It represents an increase of almost 9 million litres from 2012, according to Statistics New Zealand.

How shocking! But Stats Chats points out the story neglected to mention this fact:

The volume of pure alcohol available per person aged 15 years and over was unchanged, at 9.2 litres. This equates to an average of 2.0 standard drinks per person per day.

So real story is level of alcohol available is unchanged per capita.

The total level of alcohol available is in fact still lower than in 2008, and much lower per capita.

In terms of the last year, wine is up 3.6%, beer up 3.2%, spirits up 1.0% and spirit-based drinks (RTDs) down 6.2%. What this means is the actual amount of pure alcohol available for consumption has actually dropped, and has done so for three years. The level is 4.4% lower than three years ago.

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Whoops

January 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A spy informs me that Parliament is a bit dry at the moment as Bellamys’ liquor license wasn’t renewed in time, and won’t be renewed until the end of the week.

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The mother’s side

January 11th, 2014 at 9:19 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The woman said she had been at a close friend’s tangi out of town with her son on Tuesday – his ninth birthday.

They returned home in the afternoon and he went to play with friends across the road while she prepared dinner.

She said she had no idea that he had taken off to the skate park, about a kilometre away.

She understood a woman, aged in her mid-20s, gave her son the alcohol at the park.

“I don’t know her. I know of her,” she said. “I think they thought it would be funny.”

Police said he consumed eight pre-mixed bourbon and cola cans and two liqueur shots.

He came home about 6pm stinking of Lynx deodorant and behaving strangely.

“We were like, ‘Oh my god, he’s drunk’. Then we sorted him out and put him to lie down and that’s when the police turned up.”

She co-operated with police and has ongoing support from Child Youth and Family.

She said the young man who claimed to be the boy’s “big brother” in the video, and said it was “all good” that he was drunk, had since apologised to her.

She said she rarely drank alcohol and had never given it to her son, but would educate him about its dangers.

If she has never given alcohol to her son, then it is unfair to hold her directly responsible and she does seem genuinely shocked.

A reservation I have though is that I highly doubt that is the first time the nine year old has drunk alcohol. He had something like 18 standard drinks. If you’ve never drunk alcohol before and you weigh only around 30 kgs, then you’d be vomiting and passing out after just a few standard drinks.

So while I hope this is something that happened as a once off and with no family involvement, I am a bit cynical.

UPDATE: The Herald reports on a photo showing two more of her children with alcohol. The cynicism may be justified.

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Is Labour really saying what counts is the strength of the alcohol a 9 year old drinks?

January 10th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have said:

“There is something very wrong about any adult thinking that it’s fun, entertaining or appropriate to get a child drunk. This attitude is a wake-up call about the culture of drinking and youth drinking, that is going unchallenged right across New Zealand,” said Sue Moroney.

“The Labour Party challenges this damaging culture – we must change attitudes and support families to do their best for our next generation.

“It will also be a test of the Government’s alcohol law change of December 2013 which made an offence of supplying alcohol to a minor, without parental consent.

It never used to be an offence to supply minors with alcohol, only to sell it to them. The law changes should mean a very easy prosecution if the suppliers can be identified.

“Labour supported the Government’s alcohol law reforms, but criticised them for not going far enough.

“Amongst the amendments proposed by Labour was the outright banning of RTDs such as the one supplied to the Hamilton boy. Unfortunately, it was voted down by the Government, as were Labour’s other amendments to improve the law.

Is Labour really saying or implying that the problem is that the nine year old was drinking 7% RTDs instead of 5% RTDs? I mean, seriously? Isn’t that somewhat desperate. The nine year old shouldn’t be drinking any alcohol full stop.

Or are Labour saying that a 40 year old builder in West Auckland should be banned from drinking a 7% RTD because someone illegally supplied one to a nine year old? On that basis all alcohol in NZ would be banned.

“The Government failed to implement all of the recommendations of the Law Commission on alcohol law reform which Labour said were needed to challenge the damaging drinking culture in New Zealand.

Actually the proposal to restrict RTDs to 5% was not recommended by the Law Commission. One reason the Law Commission cited was substitution, and indeed the likely impact would be those who like 7% RTDs would then swap to self mixing their own drinks which tends to involve a strength of 13% to 20%.

“I am mindful that Fairfield is a community that wants more for its young people. While young people are still on holiday, parents must be vigilant. Greater access to youth programmes will go a long way to getting kids off the streets and finding productive ways to utilise their holiday time,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

So the problem was not enough local youth programmes. yeah, right.

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The drunk nine year old

January 9th, 2014 at 7:55 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The man who filmed a drunk young boy at a skate park says he would not have released the video if police had acted hard and fast, and communicated that to him.

Bradley Goudie, 18, uploaded a video online which showed a nine-year-old boy at Fairfield Skate Park in Clarkin Rd on Tuesday afternoon with a can of Cody’s Bourbon and Cola – 7 per cent alcohol.

The boy, who struggles to stand and slurs his speech, says “I’ve been drunk before”. He also says he was given alcohol by his aunt.

Goudie, a professional scooter rider, said he was so shocked by the apparent drunkenness of the boy that he turned his camera on him and exposed what he considered one of the biggest issues in New Zealand – underage drinking.

Actually the proportion of people aged under 18 who drink has been dropping massively in the last few years. However this case is shocking and those who supplied him with the alcohol must be prosecuted and his custodial parent should probably lose custody. There is no way she could not know he is getting drunk.

Alcohol and Drug Assessment and Counselling clinical manager Roger Brooking said authorities needed to take action over the incident.

“The police should be called and that kid should be taken off his parents or whoever’s looking after him and be placed in the care of social welfare.”

He said whoever gave the boy alcohol should face criminal charges.

I agree. Sadly it is probably already too late for the kid. If you are getting drunk and possibly stoned at age nine, then it is an uphill battle.

Child Matters founder Anthea Simcock said a crime had been committed and appropriate action should be taken.

The boy had been returned to his mother, who police said was “extremely distraught” to find her son in such a state.

But the boy’s father, who the Times has chosen not to name, said he wants his son to live with him.

The man had been going through a custody battle with his former partner and hadn’t seen the boy in six months.

He said it was “heart-wrenching” to see the video of his son online yesterday. “What I want to do is get my kids and pick them up.”

Either the mother knew what was happening, or she has picked the wrong people to look after her son.

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Police want 3 am closing time for Wellington

January 8th, 2014 at 9:04 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Thirty five people were fined for breaching liquor laws and dozens of others warned on New Year’s Eve alone, but police and Wellington City Council say the new rules are working well.

New liquor laws that came into effect on December 18 include a 4am closing time for bars, 11pm cutoff for supermarkets selling alcohol, and fines of between $250 and $2000 for breaches of the liquor ban.

The council has drafted a local alcohol policy which extends opening hours to 5am, but the policy has still to go through an approval process – and police are planning to appeal against it.

Inspector Terry van Dillen said the police view was that a 3am closing time for bars and a 9pm cutoff for off-licence liquor sales would be ideal.

“We believe 3am is a good figure – if people want to party, they can party from 9pm to 3am, they’ve just got to change their views from partying from midnight till 7am.”

I wish the Police would stick to their jobs and not try to become like the Mutaween. It is not their job to decide people must stop dancing in town by 3 am.

I’ve often been in town after 3 am. You may be at a function until around 11 pm, and then want to head out with a few friends to carry on talking and drinking. We’re not being rowdy, not drunk, not causing problems – just enjoying some drinks and conversation. On other occasions we may mix that in with some dancing, which you know is legal and okay to do after 3 am.

 

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Another survey shows youth drinking down

December 20th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ report:

The University of Auckland surveyed 1700 Maori students nationwide on their health and well-being in 2012. …

The report shows the number of Maori youth who drink alcohol at least once a week has more than halved in the past five years – something which comes as a surprise to Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams.

The survey bucks the trend of many other reports but, nonetheless, any indication of a move away from alcohol consumption should be celebrated, Ms Williams says.

Ms Williams is wrong. Almost every report shows youth drinking is declining and has been for some years. The ALAC surveys have. Youth 2007 and 2012 surveys. This latest survey. The youth drink driving stats. They’re all said that youth drinking is heading in the right direction.

Yet for some reason the taxpayer funds Alcohol Healthwatch and others to spread moral panic about youth drinking and to try and create a crisis to justify their existence.

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Calorie labels on alcohol

November 17th, 2013 at 9:37 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Do you know how many calories you’re drinking? Drinks – both alcoholic and sugary – have been in the spotlight recently.

Alcohol has been because Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is looking into whether or not alcoholic beverages should have energy (kilojoules or calories) shown on their labels. Alcoholic drinks contribute about the same energy to an average Kiwi diet as sugar does – about 5 per cent.

Many health experts believe showing the energy (kilojoule or calorie) content on alcoholic drinks would have a moderating effect on how much we drink.

I have no doubt it will. I drink a lot less now, since being more aware of the calorie level of different drinks.

I can see this meeting a lot of resistance from the alcohol companies. They will argue the same old “personal responsibility” line that makers of other unhealthy foods do.

The difference is, of course, that at least with most of our foods we can actually see the nutrition content on the label, so we can make a (more or less) informed choice.

With alcohol, it’s completely up to us.

All for informed choices.

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Calorie labels for alcohol

October 22nd, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labels revealing how costly a glass of wine or beer could be in terms of weight gain could soon be on the way, as the Government explores making them mandatory.

Alcohol manufacturers already label drinks with standard drink measurements and some voluntary health warnings.

Now, the Government is considering adding another requirement – labelling the number of kilojoules each drink contains.

I am 100% in favour of this. If we want people to make informed choices, then knowing the energy level of what we eat or drink is the best way to do that. Almost all other food and drink sold has calorie counts – it has been strange that alcohol does not.

Personally I think including such information would have a significant impact on how much some people drink. I know I drink far less now, knowing how much weight you put on with a few beers or wines.

Food Standards has commissioned a cost-benefit analysis on the concept, including looking at how energy labels might change buying and consumption.

Good.

Eric Crampton is less enthused, and has some sensible suggestions about how to reduce the burden of any regime:

  • Exempt small-batch products;
  • Exempt imports;
  • Require vendors selling exempt products to put up a notice somewhere saying “The alcohol in one standard drink provides 290 kilojoules.”
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Is this meant to discourage people from drinking

September 6th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Bob McCoskrie blogs a Herald article:

Young adult drinkers dependent on the bottle are nearly 10 times more likely to have had 10 or more sexual partners within several years than people who don’t misuse alcohol, a new study shows.

If this news gets out, I’d say it will encourage many more young people to drink more, if it means they are ten times more likely to have sex with more partners!!

 

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The Super 8 voice of change

August 20th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Eight schools in the Central North Island are competing in the Super 8 voice of change where they create music videos to promote a change in the binge drinking culture that some students have. A very good initiative as having your peers get creative to send a message is probably far more effective than having adults lecture on alcohol.

Here’s one of the entries from Napier Boys High. I may blog some of the others also. You can vote on Facebook for who you think should win.

This particular video has 2,280 likes and 398 shares so is obviously reaching a large audience. Again, a smart little initiative.

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Why not close at 6 pm?

August 8th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Kate Chapman at Stuff reports:

One-way doors from 1am and shutting bars from 3am is the best to curb alcohol problems in Wellington, police say.

Why stop at 1 am and 3 am? How about 11 pm? or we could bring back 6 pm closing – I mean that worked so well in the past.

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Youth Drinking

August 5th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I was one of those who strongly opposed the recent attempt to increase the alcohol purchase age from 18 to 20. A hysteria had been generated about drinking in NZ, and especially youth drinking – and many blamed the change in the purchase age in 1999.

The reality is that a number of surveys had shown that youth drinking had declined, not increased, since then. Once these facts got out to MPs, I think it helped the majority of them make the sensible decision not to scapegoat 18 and 19 year olds.

One of the significant pieces of research is a study done by Auckland University every few years of almost 10,000 secondary students. Their 2000 and 2007 studies showed a significant decline in youth drinking during that period.

Well last week the 2012 study came out, and the data was fascinating. It showed beyond any doubt that there had been significant drops in the number of school students who drink, and who drink regularly or binge, since 2000.

schooldrinking

 

That is a seismic shift. It totally blows away the myths about youth drinking having got far worse, based on anecdotal stories and media horror stories.

  • The proportion of students who have drunk alcohol has dropped 25%, or around a third from 2000.
  • The proportion of students who are current drinkers has dropped 25%, just over a third from 2000
  • The proportion of students who drink regularly (weekly) has dropped 9%, just over one half from 2000
  • The proportion of students who have binge drinked (five or more in a session) in the last month has dropped 18%, or just under a half from 2000

Also of interest:

  • The proportion of students who have driven after drinking has fallen from 7.8% to 3.9% – a drop of a half.
  • The proportion of students who have been in a car with a driver who has been drinking has fallen from 27.8% to 18.4% – a drop of one third.

On the non alcohol side:

  • The proportion of students who have smoked cannabis dropped from 38.2% to 23.0%
  • The proportion of students who smoke tobacco weekly dropped from 6.7% to 3.2%
  • The proportion of students who have had sex dropped from 31.3% to 24.4%
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A 1% reduction

July 29th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

A policy limiting bars’ opening hours would reduce the amount of alcohol Christchurch people drink by as little as 1 per cent, according to a city council report.

The draft Local Alcohol Policy would also cost the region more to implement than it would save in alcohol-related healthcare and police services. It could also deter bars and licensed premises from rebuilding in the central city.

Those are among the findings of a report commissioned by the Christchurch City Council that compares the costs and benefits of the draft policy.

The district-wide policy proposes a one-way door rule from 1am in the central city and a blanket 1am closing for suburban licensed premises in a bid to help curb the city’s alcohol-related issues.

The hearing of submissions on the policy begins today and is expected to last four days.

The report concluded the economic costs of the policy would outweigh the economic benefits.

In other words, the policy will achieve almost nothing, but impose costs on businesses and remove choice for residents.

It is good the Council agreed to do an economic analysis of their proposed policy. Hopefully they will listen to their own report, and not give into the wowsers.

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Group 1 carcinogens

July 2nd, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Thomas Lumley at Stats Chat blogs a quote from Professor Doug Sellman:

The ethanol in alcohol is a group one carcinogen, like asbestos

Now I have to say I had no idea what a group one carcinogen is, but Prof Sellman makes it sound like something very very nasty and fatal.

Prof Lumley explains:

Many of the readers of this story won’t know what a “group one carcinogen” is.  Given the context, a reader might well assume that “group one carcinogens” are those that carry the largest risks of cancer, or cause the most serious cancers. In fact, all it means is that an additional hazard of cancer, whether high or low, has been definitely established, because that’s all the IARC review process tries to do.

So it is a fancy name for some risk, not high risk.

Some group 1 carcinogens, such as tobacco and hepatitis B, are responsible for large numbers of cancer deaths worldwide. Others, such as plutonium and diethylstilbestrol, are responsible only for small numbers of deaths. Some group 1 carcinogens cause aggressive, untreatable tumours; for others, such as human papillomavirus, disease is largely preventable by screening; still others, such as sunlight, sometimes cause serious disease but mostly cause relatively minor tumours.

The phrase “group one carcinogen” is only relevant in an argument over whether the risk is zero or non-zero. Its use in other contexts suggests that someone doesn’t know what it means, or perhaps hopes that you don’t.

I am sure Prof Sellman knows exactly what it means.

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Drinkers not stupid

June 25th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The eight Wellington city councillors who voted to ban off-licence alcohol sales after 9pm in the hope of curbing the harm from people guzzling booze before they hit the pubs have overlooked one very important point – their targets are not stupid.

Unlike the Councillors arguably!

The move will not stop the pre-loaders from getting a head start before they go out for the night. If anything, it is likely to see them start drinking excessively earlier in the evening, causing more problems than it will solve while penalising every responsible drinker from one end of the city to the other.

Yep, it will. Many don’t start drinking at home until 10 pm or so but if they have to go buy the alcohol before 9 pm, the parties will simply start earlier and last longer.

Councillors who support the proposal, adopted by eight votes to seven, say it will help prevent people pre-loading at home or side-loading – avoiding paying bar prices by ducking out of pubs to buy takeaway alcohol or to consume previously hidden caches.

The desire to tackle those problems is laudable. Pre- and side-loading are undeniably factors in the excessive levels of intoxication that are a blight on Wellington’s nightlife.

However, simply banning off-licence sales after 9pm will solve nothing. It is absurd to believe it will be beyond the wit of those who pre- and side-load to get organised enough to visit off-licences before they have to stop selling alcohol.

Yet, it will disadvantage someone doing their household shopping late at night, who can’t buy a bottle of wine with it.

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WCC vs bar owners

June 5th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Kerry McBride at Stuff reports:

Wellington city centre bar owners are looking at legal action to fight plans they say could kill Wellington’s nightlife.

Wellington City Council officers have presented a briefing to councillors on the draft local alcohol policy, suggesting a precinct approach to trading hours, with different hours allowed for different areas.

Three “entertainment precincts” in Courtenay Place, Cuba St and the waterfront would be allowed licences until 5am, while other inner-city bars would have to shut at 2am.

Suburban venues and a “high risk” zone around Newtown would be restricted to midnight closing.

At present, 3am licences are standard for inner-city bars, with some “best practice” owners able to apply for later licences.

A group of 14 bar owners, representing more than 30 venues, is now investigating an injunction to stop the proposal reaching the council table.

Matt McLaughlin, who owns three bars, said the industry was sick of being pushed around by the council when off-licences and people drinking at home then going out were the real issue.

“It’s not fair because we are not the main problem. We’ve had a gutsful.”

Bryce Mason, owner of Sandwiches in Kent Tce, said the policy would be the death of his bar, which would fall outside the main entertainment zone, restricting him to a 2am licence.

Sandwiches closing at 2 am would be ridiculous. The concept of different times for different zones is not a bad one, but the areas can’t be arbitrary. To have Sandwiches close at 2 am and bars 50 metres up the road closing at 5 am is nuts.

Steve Drummond, from The Green Man pub, said kicking people out of bars at 2am would create huge problems in the streets, and force more people into fewer venues.

It would destroy some businesses, but “we are not going to stand by and let that happen”.

if some bars close at 2 am, it won’t mean their customers will go home. They will go up the road.

Councillor John Morrison said the restrictive hours would completely change the bar scene of Wellington and make events such as the rugby sevens impossible to host effectively.

“The hospitality industry is vital here, it’s our lifeblood. It’s completely contrary to the economic goals of the city to shut things down like this.”

A 2 am closing after the Sevens would be nuts.

The whole CBD should be treated as one area. May be very sensible to have some suburbs on different hours, but bars that are within walking distance of each other should be treated the same.

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All the fault of Big Alcohol and the supermarkets

May 10th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Sellman Letter on Aaron Gilmoreon

 

So Professor Sellman says it is all the fault of Big Alcohol who have been brainwashing Aaron since he was 15 years old to buy alcohol. This is the fault also of the supermarkets for placing alcohol next to the fruit and veges.

Somewhat obsessive I say.

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NZ drinking stats

April 17th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Ministry of Health has just published a survey of NZers and alcohol. The results are interesting, compared to five years ago. I think they show again how exaggerated the moral panic around alcohol has been.

  • The proportion of NZers who have had an alcoholic drink in the last year has dropped from 84% to 80%
  • The proportion of 15 to 17 year olds who had a drink in the last year has dropped from 75% to 59%. This shows how absolutely wrong it would have been to increase the alcohol purchase age to 20. The current age of 18 is leading to fewer young people drinking than in the past.
  • The proportion of adults who have “hazardous” drinking has dropped from 26% to 22% for men and from 11% to 9% for women.
  • The proportion of 18 – 24 year old drinkers who are hazardous drinkers has fallen from 49% to 36%.
  • The more deprived the area someone lives in, the less likely they are to drink, but if they do the more likely they are to be a hazardous drinker. 11% of adults who live in the least deprived areas are hazardous drinkers compared to 18% of adults in the most deprived areas.

These results are very consistent with other surveys in recent years.

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