I was thinking about the Greens demanding that bars near schools not be allowed to open, even though only three out of 58 games will take place on a schoolday morning. If they had their way I imagine the Backbencher pub in Wellington would have to remain closed, despite it being a very popular rugby destination. You see the Backbencher is very close to not one, not two, not three, but four schools. How terrible. In fact I’m surprised the Greens are not demanding the Backbencher be never allowed to open at all, as hell kids walking down Molesworth Street at 3.30 pm may see people in the Backbencher!
I want to put on the record some actual facts around alcohol consumption in New Zealand society. Firstly, the World Health Organization in 2014 did a global report on the use of alcohol in society. Actually what that report shows is that by international standards New Zealanders actually drink a moderate amount. We are 96th in the world for alcohol consumption. We drink about 13.7 pure litres of alcohol per capita. That places us 96th in the world. It is slightly less than the United Kingdom; it is slightly more than France. So actually we are, internationally, average drinkers. What about binge drinking? Well, by international standards New Zealanders are very low binge-drinkers. Our prevalence rate of binge drinking is 5.6 percent. That is half that of Australia’s
So 96th in the world, and a binge drinking rate half of Australia’s.
That is half that of Australia’s, it is a quarter of Canada’s, and it is one-sixth of the United Kingdom’s binging prevalence rate. So is the assertion that we are a nation of binge-drinkers correct? No.
Some NZers binge drink regularly. By far most do not.
The proportion of young people who drink has dropped 25 percent in the last 5 years—that is from 2007 to 2012. It is one-third that of the rate in 2000. What about the number of people who are regular drinkers? That dropped 9 percent between 2007 and 2012. The number of people who are regular drinkers is half that it was in 2000—this is amongst young people. What about the people who are young binge-drinkers? What about the number of people who say that they binge drank in the last month? Between 2007 and 2012 the number of young people in New Zealand who say that they binge drank in the last month has dropped by 18 percent.
And youth drink driving is also well down. The trend for youth drinking is decisively going down – the exact opposite of the impression the wowsers give.