10 reasons why making it illegal for 18 and 19 year olds to purchase alcohol is the wrong thing to doAugust 28th, 2012 at 8:01 am by David Farrar
1 – A split age will encourage more supply to minors
One of the most important changes proposed in the Alcohol Reform Act is to make it an offence to supply alcohol to minors without parental permission. I support this new law, as a major flaw in the current law is that (for example) it is currently legal for any adult to supply beer, wine or even spirits to a 14 year old.
I believe we need both a law change and a culture change where it is illegal and “uncool” to supply alcohol without parental permission to those not able to legally purchase it for themselves – just as over the past few decades it has become “uncool” to drink and drive.
But increasing the purchase age to 20 for off licenses, will work against achieving a culture of not supplying alcohol to those who can not purchase alcohol for themselves. 18 and 19 year olds are legally not minors and hence the new law making it an offence to supply alcohol to minors without parental consent will not apply to them. What this means is that it will be legal for a 20 year old to supply alcohol to a 19 year old (who can not legally purchase it), but illegal to supply it to an 17 year old. This will be confusing and work against achieving a culture where no one supplies alcohol to those unable to purchase it for themselves, without parental consent.
The only way to achieve a culture of non-supply is to have the purchase age the same as the age at which a minor becomes an adult – which is 18. That will be consistent and maximise the chance of the new non-supply law being respected. A purchase age of 20 will encourage a culture of supplying to those under the purchase age. This works directly against the other reforms in the Alcohol Reform Bill to prevent supply to minors.
2 – Fewer youth are drinking now than when the purchase age was 20
ALAC’s annual alcohol monitor survey shows that in 1997 80% of 14 to 18 year olds were drinkers. The latest 2010 survey shows only 32% of 12 to 17 year olds are drinkers. This is a massive drop.
The age ranges have not been entirely consistent over the years, but a breakdown of the 2010 research shows that only 53% of 15 to 17 year olds are drinkers – still a massive reduction from 80% in 1997.
The prevalence of youth drinking is dropping, not increasing. In 2006 ALAC research found 53% of 12 to 17 year olds were drinkers, and amongst the same age group it is 32% in 2010. That is a relative 40% drop in the youth drinking prevalence rate since 2006.
Many people have said that the drop in the purchase age in 1999 has led to more under 18 year olds drinking. This is clearly false on the ALAC research, and in fact the opposite has happened.
Also the age at which young people start drinking has been increasing. In 2006, 35% of young drinkers started before they turned 14. In 2010, it was just 21%.
The ALAC research is not the only survey. Auckland University’s Adolescent Health Research Group did a survey of around 10,000 secondary school students in 2000 and again in 2007. Their reports are here. The prevalance of secondary school students who have drunk alcohol in 2000 and 2007 they found to drop from 70% to 61%. Two highly reputable independent pieces of research have both found that fewer young New Zealanders are drinking than in the past.
3 – Most alcohol is supplied by parents or family members
60% of youth moderate and binge drinkers say their last drink was at home, or a relative’s home. Only 27% say they were at a friend’s house. Scapegoating 18 and 19 year olds for allegedly being the source of alcohol to under age drinkers, is not bourne out by the facts.
The Auckland University survey found only 20% of secondary school students had alcohol supplied by an adult who is not their parents – a drop from 25% in 2000. Blaming adult 18 and 19 year olds on school age students drinking is unfair and untrue.
4 – A split 18/20 age will increase risks for young women
The proposed split age of 18 for off-licenses and 20 for on-licenses (while preferred to a 20/20 age) will push 18 and 19 year olds who wish to have a drink to go into town, rather than have a drink at home. Far more violence and crime occurs in town, than at people’s homes. 18 and 19 year old women especially will be at risk of greater sexual assaults, if they are prevented from being able to legally purchase alcohol to drink in the safety of their own home.
5 – 18 is the age of majority
18 and 19 year old men and women are required to register on the electoral roll, and can stand for election to Parliament or local authorities.
The MP for Botany, Jami-Lee Ross, was elected to the Manukau City Council at the age of 18. He did a sufficiently good job to be re-elected in 2007, and then elected to the new Auckland Council in 2010, and to the House of Representatives in 2011.
It seems absurd that a young adult such as Jami-Lee could serve on the Manukau City Council, actually help determine and vote on local alcohol policies for the city, yet be legislatively banned from being able to buy a bottle of wine at a supermarket on the way home from a Council meeting.
Can an MP justify voting in favour on Wednesday in favour of 16 year old gay and lesbian couples being able to get married at 16, yet vote on Thursday against them being able to purchase alcohol until they are 20?
6 – Increasing the purchase age will encourage disrespect for the law
It is naïve to think that 18 and 19 year olds who are working or studying will not purchase or acquire alcohol. Of course they will. In fact it will be legal for others to acquire it for them, which will make the law somewhat farcical. Under the split age proposal, it will be illegal to sell alcohol to an 18 or 19 year old, but legal to supply it to them for free!
Laws which are widely broken or worked around, lower overall respect for the law. The United States has a higher purchase age than New Zealand, and this law is so widely broken that even Jenna and Barbara Bush broke the law – despite their father being President of the United States.
7 – There is no evidence that a split age will work
Even the groups that support increasing the purchase age to 20 say that there is no evidence that a split age will work in reducing alcohol related harm. It will simply send a confusing mixed message about whether or not 18 and 19 year olds can purchase alcohol.
No other country in the world has a split purchase age, It is an untested experiment, with no scientific basis to it. It sends out a contradictory message on the appropriate age to purchase alcohol.
8 – A split age will discriminate against rural areas
Banning 18 and 19 year olds from being able to purchase alcohol in off-licenses will have a greater impact on those in rural areas. On-licenses are common in urban areas, but many of those who live in rural areas do not have a nearby on-license. Hence this means that an effective different purchase age will apply in urban and rural New Zealand.
9 – It’s about the culture
An increase in the purchase age does nothing to address the real issue of the New Zealand drinking culture. You can’t get a change in the culture by making it illegal for a 19 year old to buy a bottle of wine. The culture change comes about by engaging with drinkers, and making unsafe drinking behaviour unattractive.
Professor Doug Sellman was quoted in this week’s Sunday Star-Times as saying “The fact is that less than 10 per cent of the 700,000 heavy drinkers in New Zealand are under 20″. Alcohol issues in New Zealand need a culture change across the board. Scapegoating 18 and 19 year olds for the problems caused by heavy drinkers is unfair – especially as fewer than 10% of the heavy drinkers are youth.
10 – Drink Driving
Youth drink driving has been dropping massively in the last few years. It dropped by just over 50% from 2007 to 2011 amongst under 17 year olds, and in the last year dropped 52% amongst all teenagers.
The split age proposal may encourage more drink driving amongst teenagers. 18 and 19 year olds will not be able to purchase alcohol to drink at home. They will only be able to purchase alcohol by going into an on-license. This is highly likely to lead to more teenagers then driving home after they have been drinking – especially in more rural areas.
Please do the right thing and vote to keep the purchase age at 18.Tags: alcohol, drink driving, drinking age, Keep It 18
Eric Crampton inserts some facts in a Press op-ed:
I do not particularly care what the jury decides on who is or is not a wowser. But I work with and care about the numbers around alcohol policy. And the impression most readers would get from the latest reporting in The Press is a bit at odds with, well, reality.
Let us begin perhaps with Jennie Connor’s citing of “a Canadian study” on the effects of minimum pricing. Can a 10 per cent increase in the minimum price of alcohol really reduce total alcohol consumption by 16 per cent? No. …
Across-the-board increases in the minimum price of alcohol have far smaller effects: a 10 per cent price increase reduces aggregate consumption by only about 3.4 per cent, as is made reasonably clear in Auld’s paper.
But the bigger mis-use of numbers follows:
I was a bit more surprised to read of the new commissioned BERL report on the health costs of alcohol in Canterbury. …
BERL here replicated work done in Australia by Collins and Lapsley (2008). But where Collins and Lapsley added up all the costs imposed by those disorders where alcohol makes things worse and subtracted from that total all the cost savings from those disorders where alcohol reduces costs, BERL simply erased any beneficial effects of alcohol for disorders including ischaemic heart disease, cholelithiasis, heart failure, stroke and hypertension. …
I received the paper Wednesday courtesy of the CDHB. And BERL, at footnote 14, reports they’ve done the same thing again: “The Collins and Lapsley fractions indicate some alcohol use may be beneficial for some conditions. We concentrate on harmful drug use, and assume zero fractions for such conditions.”
So their measure of the costs of alcohol to the Canterbury health system relies on an assumption that there can be no health benefits from alcohol – an assumption that runs contrary to the weight of international evidence. Assuming one’s conclusions is hardly proper method.
To put it more bluntly the BERL paper is useless as a public policy tool. Measuring harm without measuring benefits is something zealots do, but we expect better in scientific papers.
How often do you read that problem drinking among 15-24 year olds was no different in 2006/2007 than in 1996/1997 before the change in the alcohol purchase age?
Or that per capita alcohol consumption is down substantially since 1991? Or that light drinkers have about a 14%reduction in their chance of dying from any cause than people who never drink, correcting for the host of other health-related behaviours that are usually given as reasons for ignoring the health benefits of moderate drinking?
Be skeptical of the moral crisis around alcohol.
Amazing to see the comments at The Press attacking Eric personally or attacking things he never said. Very few able to engage on the actual issue.Tags: alcohol, BERL, Eric Crampton, The Press
This may be the most ignorant fact challenged Herald editorial yet.
It says much for the burgeoning market for ready-to-drink alcopops that the liquor industry reacted so urgently to a threat to their popularity. A Government proposal to ban off-licence stores from selling alcopops with more than 6 per cent alcohol content had industry heavyweights beating a path to Justice Minister Judith Collins’ door.
If the Government proposed to ban something, of course companies will resist that, especially when the ban would actually increase harmful drinking?
The fruits of their labour became obvious this week when for no good reason the Government backed down on its plan …
No good reasons, means the Herald doesn’t think readers deserve to hear the other side of the argument. That prohibition was not going to work, was unenforceable, and substitution was highly likely to increase harm from alcohol. Now you can debate those propositions, but the Herald decides they do not exist and their readers don’t need to be informed of them.
The Government had planned a tough line on alcopops because they are particularly harmful. Sweet-tasting, cheap and with a typical alcohol content of 8 to 10 per cent – twice that of most beers
This is such a stupid comparison – and one taken as a quote from certain lobby groups. Wine is three times the strength of most beers. Baileys is four times the strength. Spirits are eight times the strength. Absinthe is around 12 times the strength.
Beer is not what many RTD drinkers would substitute to. It is wine and self-mixed spirits – which are av average 13%.
they have become the favoured drink of many young women
Yes, and most young women don’t substitute to beer – they substitute to wine. Also young women tend to drink the 5% RTDs, not the 8% RTDs. The proposed ban would have not impacted them greatly. It would have impacted the older males who like their Woodstocks.
The Government’s original plan, incorporated in the Alcohol Reform Bill, was based on the belief that a mandatory lower alcohol level would persuade many drinkers to abandon alcopops and reduce their overall consumption of liquor.
Yes, many would abandon alcopops. But to think they would abandon liquor is about as sensible a belief as Scientology. There is empirical evidence from Australia that spirits consumption went up, as RTDs were singled out for tax increase. Does the Herald not believe in evidence based decision making? Surely the Herald thinks the Government should commission research on what should happen if they banned RTDs over 5% rather than merely make decisions based on a “belief”?
I’ve stated previously Curia did a stack of research on this issue for Independent Liquor NZ. Now some may say well you can’t trust it, because of whom commissioned it. Now I in no way accept that – but my response to that was always to plead that the Government through the Ministry of Health or Justice should go away and commission its own research amongst drinkers of RTDs as to what they would do if RTDs over 5% were banned. I am very confident they would get the same conclusions – there would be significant substitution to even higher alcohol products.
It also casts an even greater focus on the difference in approach to the liquor and tobacco industries. The tobacco giants have been under unrelenting assault, including, most recently, a ban on retail displays and a plan to follow Australia’s lead and introduce plain packaging. The comparison with the content and snail’s pace of alcohol reform could not be starker.
That is because tobacco, taken in moderation, still kills you. Alcohol does not. If you drink too much coke, it will kill you. Too much water will kill you. It is the abuse of alcohol that is the problem – not alcohol per se. With tobacco, it is entirely different.
The Law Commission will forever remain perplexed that several of its key recommendations after a painstaking inquiry, notably on minimum pricing and an increased excise tax, have not been included in the Alcohol Reform Bill. The Government’s timidity can only have encouraged the liquor industry to think it could take the sting out of a perfectly reasonable attempt to limit the damage caused by alcopops.
In a final act of confusion the editorial wails that the Law Commission recommendations have not all been agreed to by the Government – yet doesn’t see fit to mention that Law Commission did not recommend the 5% limit on RTDs. To the contrary, it cited evidence that substitution would occur and said the focus should be on alcohol as a whole not just a particular type of product (unless unsafe).
And the attempt was not reasonable. It was an attempt that was likely to actually increase harm, or even deaths, from alcohol. An 1125 bottle of vodka is far far more dangerous than a six pack or even a dozen RTDs. By the end of the night, people often self-mix at 50/50 which is over 20% alcohol – and sometimes you even up drinking spirits straight at 40% alcohol. It was ridicolous to try and target a 6% or 7% or 8% drink, which might push people onto drinking 13%, 20% or even 40% strengths drinks. And if you think that would not have happened, then I suggest you actually go out and talk to some young drinkers.Tags: alcohol, editorials, NZ Herald, RTDs
John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:
The liquor industry has scored a win over the planned regulation of RTDs in the Government’s alcohol reform package.
I think it is a win for common sense, and actually a win for reduced harm from alcohol.
Justice Minister Judith Collins yesterday revealed she had dumped an earlier plan to ban the sale of ”RTDs” (ready-to-drink) with more than 6 per cent alcohol content from off-license stores.
Alcohol reforms initially announced by former Justice Minister Simon Power originally included a ban on RTDs with 5 per cent alcohol or more from off-licenses.
The proposed ban was effectively a form of prohibition. Research (a phone poll, two point of sale surveys and eight focus groups) Curia did for Independent Liquor left me in no doubt that the impact of trying to ban RTDs over 5% would be a significant substitution effect, with many people going from say 8% RTDs to (on average) 13% self-mixes. Note that the research Curia did for ILNZ was over a year ago, and I have no ongoing commercial relationship with them.
The experience in Australia with increasing taxes on RTDs also produced empirical evidence of increased substitution to spirits, and this is one of the reasons the Law Commission did not recommend this measure.
Instead, the bill will include a ”regulation-making power” for the Government to restrict the sale of RTDs in future. Until the powers are exercised, however, RTD sales will be left to work under the industry’s own code.
”The Government has decided to give the alcohol industry the opportunity to introduce its own measures to limit the harm to young people caused by RTDs,” Collins said.
”The industry has offered to put in place a voluntary code on RTDs. If the industry measures are ineffective, Government has the ability to take action through a regulation-making power in the bill. This allows restrictions on the sale of RTDs at any time in the future.” …
The association promised in April to:
- Limit the production and distribution of new RTDs to a maximum of two ”standard drinks” per single container.
- Show clearly the number of ”standard drinks” on each container.
- Ensure no RTDs have ”specific appeal to minors”.
- Comply with the Code for Advertising Liquor, administered by the Advertising Standards Authority.
- ”Invest and support” responsible drinking educational programmes.
There are some RTDs which are, shall we say, a but anti-social. I’m not a fan of the Bigfoot RTD which was a large 6 – 8 standard drinks in one container. There is a certain incentive to finish a container, and people don’t tend to share containers as they might say individual drinks.
So a self-regulatory limit of say 2 standard drinks per container has merit in my opinion. A restriction on the number of drinks per container is much more sensible than trying to ban 6% RTDs, when people would then buy 40% vodka. The reality is that some RTD drinkers do not like the 5% RTDs (they call them lolly water) and prefer the stronger ones.
A limit of two standard drinks per container means they have as much alcohol as a standard double nip in a bar.
There were also two other problems with the proposed prohibition on RTDs over 5%. One is that under CER, the RTDs could be made in Australia, and imported here. We would simply be exporting jobs.
The third is that prohibition does not work as well as self-regulation. If you ban say 8% RTDs, then manufacturers could do inventive stuff like sell a container which has (for example) rum in one part and coke in the other, and you just mix them together to make your own RTD (just as many self-mix from spirits from mixers).
I have no doubt that the proposed prohibition on RTDs over 5% would have not only failed, it would have increased overall harm from alcohol. I am glad the Government is going for something that will work, over something that sounds good, but would be harmful.Tags: alcohol, RTDs
The Herald reports:
Justice Minister Judith Collins has suggested there will be further changes to rules on alcopops in liquor reforms due before Parliament.
The Alcohol Reform Bill bans off-licence stores from selling ready-to-drink beverages (RTDs) with more than 6 per cent alcohol content and more than 1.5 standard drinks per container.
Mrs Collins this morning hinted that this could be amended.
“There will be a provision on RTDs, and that provision will be a bit different from what we did in May, just to make it more workable and more flexible to make it better able to react to any initiatives by the industry that might make it counter-productive to what we’re trying to do.”
I think it is initiatives by RTD drinkers they should worry about – specifically substitution to hard spirits.
Effectively what the Government is proposing is a limited form of prohibition or banning. It is saying it will be illegal to sell RTDs (at off-licenses) of greater than 6% alcohol. This is effectively abolishing certain types of drink. When in the history of humanity has such prohibition worked?
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.
I repeat. The Law Commission did not recommend any measures against RTDs specifically. This proposal is not based on the Law Commission report, but in fact goes against what they said, which was:
Despite these concerns, there are strong arguments why it is not feasible to ban or directly target RTDs. The risks associated with drinking RTDs are of no marked difference to any other alcohol product. It is likely that banning one type of alcohol product would simply lead to the development of alternative products by the alcohol industry. Some experts consider that young people would be likely to switch products in order to obtain cheap alcohol if measures were introduced to single out RTDs by increasing their price or removing them from the market.
Some of the products to which they may switch are arguably more likely to cause harm because of the high alcohol content, such as straight spirits mixed with other beverages.
On this issue the Law Commission is absolutely correct.Tags: alcohol
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.Tags: alcohol
Lees-Galloway had drafted a series of amendments to the Bill that he would put up when it came back to the debating chamber for a clause by clause debate, which was expected this month.
They included restricting alcohol advertising around schools, early childhood centres and at all but R18 films, and prohibiting advertising discounts.
Labour acknowledged many organisations relied on alcohol sponsorship, just as many once relied on tobacco sponsorship, he said.
“That is why I want to take this moderate approach to consider the viability of this option and to plan a smooth implementation should it go ahead.”
Lees-Galloway also wanted alcohol sponsorship phased out the same way tobacco sponsorship was phased out.
I’ll come to the amendments in a second, but I think banning alcohol sponsorship would be a draconian move, and unjustified.
THE PROPOSED CHANGES:
- Remove alcohol advertising on posters or billboards within 300m of schools and early childhood centres.
I don’t have a problem of removing within a fair distance of schools. ECEs is a bit over-board – I don’t think three year olds look at billboards much – and more practically an ECE can move about anywhere – unlike schools which tend to be in a fairly fixed location.
Remove alcohol advertising in cinemas unless the film screening is R18
This is an effective ban in all movies. When is the last time an R18 showed? I have some sympathy for the notion thought that one shouldn’t advertise in films targeted for kids. Maybe a lower threshold though?
Prohibit television advertising of alcohol before 9pm.
Prohibit using price in alcohol advertisements except in catalogues. Prohibit advertising discounts on alcohol, including in catalogues.
This one has some merit. Brand advertising I do not have a problem with, but advertising that promoted very cheap alcohol does cause issues. But one has to be careful how far you go. Making happy hour illegal can be taking things too far.
Establish a “Alcohol Advertising Reform Committee” with the health and justice ministries which would include the Health Promotion Agency.
Not sure we need a committee, but an issue with alcohol advertising is that the only penalty for breach of an ASA code on alcohol advertising is you have to pull the advertisement. This I think encourages some advertising which does breach the code. It is worth looking at having some sanctions for code breaches.Tags: alcohol, Iain Lees-Galloway, Labour
Eric Crampton blogs:
Last week, anti-alcohol advocacy group Alcohol Action NZ put out a press release where the University of Otago’s Jennie Connor was quoted:
“A recent Canadian study has shown that a 10% increase in the minimum price of alcohol reduces its consumption by 16% relative to other drinks”.
Eric did something very unusual then.
I got in touch with one of the authors of what has to be the study to which she’s referring.
Chris Auld reported that the -1.6 price elasticity figure indeed only refers to a measure of own-price elasticity. Except it isn’t quite own-price elasticity. Because the estimation technique doesn’t correct for substitution effects, it combines the own-price elasticity with cross-price elasticity from other products.
Eric then starts quoting formulas which will turn off neurones in most people, but they are there if you want to read them.
Chris also confirms that the -0.34 estimate is the one that best reflects the expected effects of an across-the-board price increase like minimum pricing
That means a 10% increase in prices would reduce consumption by 3.4%. Eric concludes:
Jennie Connor really should retract her press release or issue a correction. It leads people to believe that a minimum price will have far more effect on harmful drinkers’ consumption than can be supported by the evidence. Otherwise, how much weight should anybody place on any “fact” claimed by Jennie Connor in her press releases?
But to show he is balanced (and Eric is one of those guys who is all about the facts), he sides with Ross Bell of the Drug Foundation over John Key re the impact of minimum pricing on the quality of drink. But he also corrects Ross on a couple of things also. A post well worth reading.Tags: alcohol, Alcohol Action, Eric Crampton, minimum pricing
There are rumbles within Labour over MP Charles Chauvel promoting a minimum pricing regime for upcoming alcohol law changes as party policy.
TVNZ reported Labour had the numbers to pass the minimum pricing regime but it appears Mr Chauvel may not have all his colleagues on board, let alone the crucial votes of United Future and ACT.
That is because Labour is treating the changes as a conscience vote and several of its MPs oppose minimum pricing.
Will they vote against Chauvel’s amendment.
It is interesting that they are trying to say the amendment is a Chauvel amendment, not a Labour amendment. The problem is that Chauvel is their Justice Spokesperson, so amendments from him are not seen the same as amendments from a junior backbencher.
My challenge to every MP who votes for the minimum price amendment, is to be as courageous as Lianne Dalziel was, and state what you think the minimum price should be.Tags: alcohol, Labour, minimum pricing
The Herald reports:
Labour MP Charles Chauvel is calling for a minimum price on alcohol, but there is no consensus among his party about what that price should be.
This is trying to have your cake and eat it to. It is like a party announcing their taxation policy and saying “Oh we favour taxes going up, but we won’t tell you to how much”. A minimum pricing policy with no detail on what they want the minimum price to be, is not credible.
Before the 2011 election, Labour MP Lianne Dalziel argued in the House for a $2 minimum price per standard drink in Parliament. She said this would bump up the price of the $6 bottles of wine which young women “pre-loaded on”, while not affecting a $15 bottle of wine.
National has argued that this would mean no bottle of wine – which usually contained 7 to 8 standard drinks – could be bought for less than $16.
Ms Dalziel’s office yesterday said that the MP used the $2 threshold as an example, and it was not Labour policy. It was up to the Justice Minister to decide on the threshold, and if minimum pricing was voted on in the House, Labour MPs would vote individually on it.
Crap. Here are her exact words:
we should set a minimum price that would prevent wine from being sold for less than $2 for a standard drink
Does that sound like an example? It is a clear statement of what the minimum price should be.
This was not a one off. Labour’s spokesperson has been very consistent. At the first reading in 2010 she also said:
The priority is to increase the price of dirt-cheap alcohol, and that is why I am arguing for minimum pricing. I refer to the $5.99 bottles of wine. At that price, three young women can buy five bottles of wine to preload on, rather than buy two bottles of very good wine for the same price. The ones who buy five bottles of $5.99 wine are the most price-sensitive buyers. They are the ones who will change their behaviour when prices go up. Do not let anyone tell us that it will do otherwise. That is the reason for a minimum price per standard drink. The $2 per minimum standard drink price would not touch a $15 bottle of wine. That would stay the same price, but it would slightly more than double the price of the $5.99 bottle of wine.
It would touch the $15 bottle of wine. My Central Otago Pinot Noir is 14%, which for 750mls is 8.3 standard drinks. That would mean a minimum price of $16.60. I generally avoid the $6 bottles of wines, but you get many good wines for $11 or so, and Lianne is advocating they increase 50% in price.
I hope that MPs in Parliament will not let Labour get away with their policy of saying we believe in minimum pricing, we want to pass a law to enable it, but we will not tell you what the minimum price should be. Labour should be honest and tell New Zealanders what they think the minimum price should be.
Maybe it is even more than $2 a standard drink?Tags: alcohol, Labour, Lianne Dalziel, minimum pricing
In my Herald column I write about Labour’s proposed minimum pricing for alcohol.
Labour seem very reluctant to confirm what minimum price they are actually advocating. Lianne Dalziel twice stated in Parliament it should be at least $2 a standard drink. Her colleagues seem to want to ignore that, as seen below.
You can’t have it both ways and have your MPs get up in Parliament and say the law should be this, and then deny that is your policy – especially when the MP is your spokesperson on alcohol issues.
A reader sent me this graphic, which sums it up.
More usefully, Eric Crampton has an excellent analysis of minimum pricing. He states:
What would the world have to look like for minimum alcohol pricing to be a reasonable policy solution?
Suppose it is the case that harmful heavy drinkers, the sort that impose the greatest harms on others when they consume alcohol, really don’t care about the quality of the alcohol they’re drinking; they’re buying whatever product provides alcohol at the lowest price per standard drink. Suppose further that this cohort’s consumption is reasonably responsive to price measures: if you raise the price of the cheapest form of alcohol, you’ll do a lot to curb that cohort’s consumption while not doing much to reduce the normal consumption of moderate drinkers. Finally, assume that there’s little overlap between the kinds of alcohol consumed by harmful drinkers and that consumed by moderate low-income drinkers.
So minimum pricing is a good idea Eric says, if the above holds true.
where both heavy drinkers and moderate drinkers are choosing the same kinds of products, albeit in different quantities, we have to worry a lot about how each kind of consumer responds to changes in prices. The best meta-study on the topic remains Wagenaar, who found that heavy drinkers are roughly 60% as price responsive as moderate drinkers: the price elasticity of demand among heavy drinkers is -0.28 while it’s -0.44 for average drinkers. If we doubled the price of lower cost products, which we’d have to do to get to Labour’s preferred $2 minimum price per standard drink, moderate drinkers who currently choose that class of product would cut back their consumption by about 44% while heavy drinkers would reduce their consumption by only about 28%.
Intuitively you would expect heavy drinkers to be less price sensitive.Tags: alcohol, David Farrar on Politics, minimum pricing, NZ Herald
Charles Chauvel announced:
Labour is seeking to toughen up the Government’s proposed alcohol law reform by proposing amendments to allow for minimum prices to be set and to give more clout to local government when licensing decisions are made.
I blogged last November that Labour’s policy is to have a minimum price of $2 per standard drink.
This power, if properly exercised, will put an end to $6 bottles of wine being sold in supermarkets.
It will put an end to not just $6 bottles of wine, but $10 ones, $12 ones and $15 ones. Labour would make it illegal for a bottle of wine to be sold for less than $16.
I prefer measures that target problem drinkers, not those who sock hundreds of thousands of responsible drinkers also.Tags: alcohol, Labour, minimum pricing
The Herald reports:
Labour is accusing National of doing a backroom deal with supermarket giants after a new store apparently flouted proposed law changes by placing alcohol at its front door.
Alcohol reforms due to return to Parliament for their final stages this month would prevent supermarkets from putting beer and wine in places where it could not be avoided by customers.
What silly language. The law has not been passed yet, so you can not be flouting it.
Labour associate health spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway said he was surprised to see alcohol at the front entrance of a Countdown supermarket in Palmerston North which opened on Wednesday.
“I queried that … because obviously the Alcohol Reform Bill as it’s drafted at the moment would make that illegal. It seemed an unusual thing to do when the law change is so imminent.”
Also a silly statement to make. Apart from the fact that the Bill still has committee stage (and at ten parts could take well over a week) and third reading to go, the key clause only comes into effect 12 months after royal assent.
So is Iain saying that he thinks that it takes 15 months to move the location of alcohol in a store?
Mr Lees-Galloway said the managing director told him the supermarket expected this placement to be permitted once Justice Minister Judith Collins’ supplementary order paper (SOP) on the bill was passed.
“He was convinced that there wouldn’t be any need for him to move it once the legislation had been passed with the minister’s SOP.”
I’ve had no discussions with anyone in Government on this issue, but know a bit about it having been briefed on it by some supermarket people. If (and this is a big if) Mr Lees-Galloway is reporting the managing director correctly, then I suspect he is quite wrong.
There is an issue around the definition of thoroughfare in the bill, but not with the principle that alcohol not be displayed in prominent areas such as the entrance. It is simply about having it practical, especially for smaller operators.
So basically the entire story is a beat-up. There is no flouting of the law. The new requirement will not take force for at least 12 – 15 months and if there are any changes they are likely to be small technical ones in terms of this clause.Tags: alcohol
Binge drinking could follow smoking in losing its fashionable status, says a Wellington emergency department consultant hoping a sobriety campaign will help reduce alcohol-related harm.
Hello Sunday Morning encourages those wanting to take a break from alcohol to blog on the booze-free experience. The project has already attracted hundreds of followers around New Zealand and is today being given a push with its national launch in Auckland.
Wellington Hospital emergency department consultant Mark Hussey said it “certainly sounds like a good idea” and thought the initiative may lead to binge drinking becoming “uncool” in the same way campaigns against smoking had worked, especially with young people.
This is exactly the sort of initiative that we need. It is a culture change among youth that will see a reduction in harm from alcohol. It is not making it illegal for a 19 year old to buy a bottle of wine.Tags: alcohol, drinking age
Ian Steward in the SST reports:
Rates of serious violent crime double within 900m of a liquor outlet, a new study has found.
And the nationwide study has confirmed that the more liquor stores an area has, the more likely it is to have a higher rate of serious violent crime, regardless of poverty and other factors.
Now I think there is an obvious linkage, as alcohol is a factor in some violent crime.
Study lead author Peter Day said the study ranked the country’s 286 police station areas into five groups (quintiles) according to their rate of serious violent crime.
“The number of alcohol outlets consistently increased with increasing quintiles of serious violent offence rates,” the study said.
A more detailed analysis was performed using census “mesh blocks” where the country was divided into 41,393 small blocks representing about 100 people in each.
Using mapping software researchers were able to work out the median travel distance to a liquor outlet. Areas with the lowest rates of serious violence had to travel a median distance of 4.5km to the nearest off-licence. For the highest rates of serious violence, the median distance to an off-licence was just 1.1km.
Using the mesh block analysis, crime rates were calculated for distances from liquor outlets. On average nationwide the incidence of serious violent crime doubled once you got within 900m of a liquor outlet.
I do wonder though how much of this effect, is just because people are in more dense urban areas. As a comparison, what if you compared violent crime incidence to the distance to the nearest hairdresser? Would you also find there is more violence crime close to hairdressers?
Alac chief executive Gerard Vaughan said the current law did not take into account how many outlets were in an area when granting licences.
“If you want to set up a pub or a restaurant you need to get resource consent and demonstrate you’re a person of good character. There’s no consideration around `does this community need another licence?’,” he said.
The Alcohol Reform Bill will give local authorities the ability to set a local alcohol policy. I can understand the desire not to have a bottle store at every corner. However I hope that restaurants would not be declined on the basis of pre-existing restaurants.
The three spikes with the highest numbers of liquor outlets were Auckland central (447 alcohol licences), Wellington central (423) and Christchurch central (394), all of which had high crime rates.
Again, how much is this due to urban density?Tags: alcohol
John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:
Teenagers aged under 18 will need the express consent of their parents through a text message or a phone call to have a drink at a party under the latest alcohol curbs planned by the Government.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said yesterday that the Alcohol Reform Bill would be back in Parliament to pass its final stages next month.
MPs are already lining up to back an amendment to the bill which would raise the purchase age to 20, and Ms Collins said she would also introduce a Government amendment in the final stages.
The bill, which passed its second reading last year, would have required adults giving liquor to minors to understand “on reasonable grounds” that there was parental consent.
Ms Collins said the Government now wanted to “tighten that up” so that “express consent” was required.
“That’s a text or a phone call or a discussion with a parent,” she said.
“Before someone supplies your 16-year-old or your 14-year-old with alcohol, they [will have to] tell you.”
I support that change, and the new restriction overall on supply of alcohol to minors. It is silly that it is absolutely legal at the moment to give a bottle of vodka to a 14 year old.
Another new measure being planned is to ban the sale from off-licences of “ready to drink” mixes with an alcohol content of more than 6 per cent.
The Government has previously suggested a 5 per cent limit, but concerns were raised that might not be possible because of international trade rules.
Ms Collins said RTDs were a legitimate alternative to badly mixed drinks, but there was growing concern about drinks with high alcohol content that were also very sweet.
“It’s better than having people drinking straight vodka, or doing their own mixes and getting it all wrong, or getting their drinks spiked.
“There’s loads of reasons to have RTDs but there is also a real reason to look at the highest level ones and where they’re being sold.”
RTDs are much better than people doing their own mixes. The average self-mix is around 13% alcohol, while the average RTD is 6.5% (around half are 5% and half are 8%).
Those who drink the 8% RTDs atend to be older drinkers and they specifically like the taste of them. If they can not get an RTD stronger than 5%, then many will substitute to spirits and self-mixes. A 6% limit will do less harm than a 5% limit, but my belief is that even a 6% limit will actually increase harm from alcohol, due to the substitution effect.
The proposed “split age” would restrict alcohol sales at off-licences such as supermarkets to 20-year-olds while leaving it at 18 for licensed premises such as bars and restaurants.
National MP Tim Macindoe has put up an amendment calling for the purchase age in all cases to go up to 20, while his National colleague Nikki Kaye has put up an amendment for it to stay at 18.
An increase in the purchase age will in fact undermine the new law restricting supply to minors. It is a bone headed move, based on emotion.Tags: alcohol, drinking age
Buried in their health policy is confirmation that Labour will bring in minimum pricing for alcohol. Lianne Dalziel has twice said in Parliament that it should be at least $2 a standard drink. These posters hence reflect the minimum alcohol will cost under Labour – it might be even more than that.
If you decide to stick these posters up anywhere, make sure you stick an authorisation statement on them, as they would then be an election advertisement. While they are on my blog, they represent my personal political view online and are exempt.
They would look very good on university and polytechnic campuses, and in supermarkets and bottle stories I reckon!
If people thought Labour’s 1958 “black budget” was bad, wait until their 2012 budget if they win. The black budget only doubled the tax on alcohol which put prices up around 30%. Labour’s policy would see the price of many forms of alcohol actually double in price!!Tags: alcohol, Labour
In the debate on the Alcohol Reform Bill, Lianne Dalziel has just said that it is outrageous that you can buy a bottle of wine for less than $2/standard drinks.
So this is a sure sign that Labour, if Government, will legislate to ensure wine costs at least $16 a bottle.Tags: alcohol, Labour, Lianne Dalziel
Certain lobby groups and MPs would have you believe that since the alcohol purchase age was lowered in 1999, many more young people are drinking alcohol.
But an Auckland University study of 9,000 high school students has found the following changes from 2001 to 2007:
- Students who have never drunk alcohol increased from 18% to 28%
- Students who do not currently drink alcohol increased from 30% to 39%
- Of students who currently drink alcohol, those who have not had a drink in the last four weeks went from 22% to 24%
- Of students who drink alcohol, the proportion saying friends gave it to them dropped from 62% to 53%
- Those asked for ID when purchasing rose from 44% to 61%
- Those who were a passenger with a driver who has had over two drinks dropped from 29% to 24%
So remind me again why MPs are lining up like lemmings to increase the purchase age to 20?
The survey does show some negative increases, such as the proportion who binge drink, but that reinforces why the approach should be to target problem drinkers, not criminalise every 18 and 19 year old in the country.Tags: alcohol, drinking age
In my Stuff blog, I look at the cost and costs of alcohol. An extract:
alcohol, By the numbers, Stuff
Another key area of controversy is advertising. Some advocate that alcohol advertising and sponsorship should be totally banned. This would mean that Tui billboards would be illegal, and that Brancott Estate would no longer be able to sponsor the World of Wearable Arts show in Wellington. The Government has said it will not ban alcohol advertising and sponsorship, but this decision may change depending on the makeup of Parliament after the election. Do you think an advertising ban would result in young people not drinking, and if so would be worthwhile? Or do you think banning Tui billboards is a step too far?
Got sent this graph by a reader in the alcohol industry. As people will know liquor advertising is blamed for a lot of things. In fact the Law Commission recommended banning all alcohol advertising and sponsorship – even Tui billboards.
While I do think breaches of the advertising standards for alcohol should carry penalties (at present you just get told to withdraw the ad), I am not convinced there is any case for an overall ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship.
Having said that, I think there are some issues around price advertising (as opposed to brand advertising) and loss leading that are worth considering changes to.Tags: alcohol
All teeange deaths are tragic. The families never recover, the friends are traumatised, and a life full of potential is wasted.
I had two classmates die in a car accident in Year 11. It took a long time to get over that, and even today I think of them several times a year.
The James Webster death was due to alcohol, and few would disagree that the ease of supply of alcohol to under 18s needs to be changed – and there are law changes proposed around that.
In relation to the death of David Gaynor, Labour have said:
Labour is calling on the Government to implement all of the Law Commission’s recommendations on alcohol reform in the wake of the death of a King’s College student following his school ball.
I have to be very careful here as there are strict legal restrictions on what I can and can not publish. However what I can say is that I do not believe alcohol was a major, or arguably even minor, contributor to this awful tragedy. To the best of my knowledge this is not a James Webster case, or even particularly similiar.
So politicians who use the death to demand particular alcohol law changes are, I will be charitable, potentially misguided.
My sympathy goes out to the family and friends of David.Tags: alcohol, David Gaynor, Labour
One of the justifications for raising the purchase age to 20 is the argument that youth drinking is worse now than in the past.
A reader has sent me a report by the Foundation for Advertising Research, which has the latest data from ALAC in it. A couple of stats readers may be interested in.
Average age of initiation of drinking by youth aged 12 – 17
- 2006/07 – 13.8 years
- 2007/08 – 14.1 years
- 2008/09 – 14.3 years
- 2009/10 – 14.6 years
A pretty clear trend there, and what most would say is a good one.
Prevalance of 12 – 17 year olds who are drinkers
- 2006/07 – 52%
- 2007/08 – 52%
- 2008/09 – 50%
- 2009/10 – 32%
And that’s a dramatic drop in the prevalance of young people drinking.
Percentage of all 12 – 17 olds who drink more than once a week
- 2006/07 – 9%
- 2007/08 – 9%
- 2008/09 – 7%
- 2009/10 – 3.5%
Again a good trend.
Percentage of all youth 12-17 that consumed 5 drinks or more on the last occasion
- 2006/07 – 21.3%
- 2007/08 – 22.9%
- 2008/09 – 19.5%
- 2009/10 – 15.0%
Again a nice downwards trend.
Again all these stats come from ALAC – the Alcohol Advisory Council.Tags: alcohol, drinking age
Appeared this morning before the Justice & Electoral Committee (well technically Sub-Committee A of the said Committee) to speak to my submission on the Alcohol Reform Bill which is below. I’ve appeared so often before that Committee, that I’ve now been labelled a groupie
Had around 15 minutes, and thought it was a good discussion. The MPs engaged well and are obviously over the many issues in the bill. Everyone agrees we want less harm from alcohol. The trick is isolating the measures that will do that, and not have consequences which may lead to more harm. Plus also not overly penalising responsible drinkers.
SUBMISSION OF DAVID FARRAR TO THE JUSTICE & ELECTORAL SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE ALCOHOL REFORM BILL
About the Submitter
- This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.
- The Government’s alcohol reform bill is an improvement on the status quo. However in some areas it does not go far enough, and in other areas it unfairly penalizes all New Zealanders, rather than more precisely targeting drinkers that cause harm to themselves or others.
- In this submission I have mainly focused on the areas where I think change is desirable, rather than list every clause I agree with.
A drinking age
- I believe that .the culture of youth drinking will not change unless we have a drinking age, as well as a purchase age. This may not be popular, but I believe it is necessary.
- At present it is totally legal for an adult (any adult) to supply a bottle of vodka to a 13 year old. It is only illegal to purchase it with the intent of supply, but it is not illegal to supply it. And intent is very difficult to prove.
- The proposed new requirements around supply of alcohol to minors are a good step in the right direction, and are arguably one of the most important parts of the bill. However I do not think they go far enough.
- I think parents need to be given assistance and tools in dealing with youth alcohol issues, and a drinking age is one way to do this. It allows parents to say “No it’s illegal to drink at your age”.
- Some will argue a drinking age is ineffective and can’t be policed. But by that argument we would not have a legal age for sex either. The idea isn’t to arrest lots of parents and young people for under-age drinking – but to send a clear message about appropriate ages. A comparison could be made to the age at which children can be legally left alone – 14. Now parents do not get arrested because they pop down to the dairy for 30 minutes while leaving a 12 year old at home. But it does mean most parents know that you generally should not leave under 14 year olds unsupervised.
- The ages I would propose for a drinking age are:
- 14 with parental supervision
- 16 with parental approval and adult supervision
- 18 otherwise
- Effectively this would say that no one under the age of 14 should be drinking alcohol at all, that 14 and 15 year olds can only drink with their parents (a wine with dinner type scenario) and that 16 and 17 year olds can only drink with parental permission and adult supervision (a birthday party supervised by other parents etc)
- A breach of the drinking age law should be an offence for the young person involved, as well as for whomever may have supplied the alcohol.
- It could be worth considering that only certain types of alcohol (ie not spirits) be legal at the younger ages.
The purchase age
- A drinking age will be far more effective in changing the culture of youth drinking than criminalizing 18 and 19 year olds for drinking.
- I am aware the purchase age will come to a conscience vote at committee of the whole stage, regardless of decisions by this select committee, so I don’t plan to spend too many words on this issue.
- A purchase age of 20 is impossible to justify as a principled position. At 18 one can even be elected to Parliament or a local Council. I note the future MP for Botany was elected to the Manukau City Council at 18 and the Mayor of Porirua was elected to his Council at the age of 19. This bill would give 18 and 19 year old Councillors a major say in local alcohol policies, but make it illegal to purchase a bottle of wine.
- The proposed 18/20 split age is better than a 20/20 age, but will seriously undermine the move to make it unacceptable to supply alcohol to under 18 year olds. This is because it will be legal for a 20 year old to supply alcohol to an 18 year old but not to a 17 year old. We want a law which says it is unacceptable to supply alcohol to anyone underage.
Excise Duty/Minimum Prices
- I support the level of excise duty being set as a level which will cover the external costs of alcohol consumption.
- There is credible research that the current level of excise duty does cover the external costs. There has been other research done which has concluded that the level of excise duty is not high enough. However that research has been shown to be totally flawed, containing the most basic errors such as counting private costs as external costs, yet not counting private benefits. The Government and Parliament should be very wary of decision making on such flawed research.
- The current excise regime is not consistent by strength of alcohol. Wine has a much lower excise for its volume of alcohol than other products, for example.
- I believe there is merit looking at either revising the excise tax to be less discriminatory or a minimum price scheme based on alcohol volume.
Local Alcohol Policies
- I generally support the ability of local communities to set alcohol policies for their area. What is appropriate for Cannons Creek may not be appropriate for Courtney Place.
- The Government has announced a policy intention of limiting RTDs to 5% strength and 1.5 standard drinks. This is not directly in the bill, but provision has been made to enable the Government to regulate this at a later date.
- As a market research company, my company (Curia) was engaged by Independent Liquor (NZ) Ltd to do quantitative and qualitative research on this issue, including the likely impact of any change. This research has been cited in their submission on the bill.
- Based on this research, and also research in Australia, I have no doubt that a law change to restrict RTDs to 5% strength would in fact lead to more alcohol induced harm, rather than less. Around half of RTD drinkers buy 6% to 8% RTDs, and if these were legislated out of the market, many of them would then purchase spirits instead so they can self-mix drinks.
- The Law Commission itself warned of the dangers of targeting just one sort of alcohol, due to substitution issues. I would urge the Government and Parliament to take heed of the Law Commission advice on this issue.
Again, in summary, I would urge the committee to apply a filter to all proposed measures, measuring how effective it will be in reducing harmful drinking, and how much it will impact people undertaking non harmful drinking. We want measures that maximize the former and minimize the latter.Tags: alcohol, drinking age, submissions