I thought TOP were a policy party?

The Herald reports:

The alcohol purchase age would be 20 years and booze prices would jump by an average of 10 per cent under policy by Gareth Morgan’s political party. …

“One doesn’t need to be a policy analyst to see that lowering the age of purchase has effectively lowered the socially acceptable age at which young people start drinking. 

If they did use a policy analyst, the analyst might have told them they are talking shit.

As I blogged in 2011:

Certain lobby groups and MPs would have you believe that since the  purchase age was lowered in 1999, many more young people are drinking .

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%

So fewer students drinking. Also I blogged in 2012:

And if you go back to before the age dropped from 20 to 18, in 1997, 80% of 14 to 18 year olds were drinking alcohol despite it being illegal to purchase it. There is no direct data for the the same age range today, but the closest we have is 53% of 15 to 17 year olds were drinkers in 2010. Overall there looks to be fewer minors drinking today than when the purchase age was 20, and beyond doubt the rate has fallen massively since 2005.

That data is from two independent surveys. And also Stuff reported in 2013:

Lowering the drinking age to 18 has not led to more binge-drinking or alcohol-related road accidents among young people, researchers have found.

The study, due to be published in an academic journal later this year, shows changes to the minimum purchasing age passed by Parliament in 1999 had no significant impact on the drinking patterns of 15 to 19-year-olds relative to 22 to 23-year-olds between 1996 and 2007.

I have a summary of all the evidence that fewer young people are drinking today than in the past in this blog post.

So it is a real shame to see a party that claims to be about policy and evidence, ignore the evidence which doesn’t fit with their views. That is not to say the level of harm from alcohol abuse amongst some young people is too high. Of course it is. But the change in the purchase age in 1999 was not a factor, and is a lazy cop out from the more complex solutions.

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