Until Friday we have a unique opportunity to help change New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture. At the moment the Justice and Electoral Select Committee is taking submissions on the Alcohol Reform Bill.
The Bill is a very very very small itsy bitsy step in the right direction, but it does not go anywhere near as far as what Geoffrey Palmer and the Law Commission suggested in their report Alcohol in Our Lives: Curbing the Harm.
Simon Power is only tackling the easy bits and scapegoating youth in the current legislation. He hasn’t nearly gone as far as the 3000 or so submissions to the Law Commission show the political will to be.
So if you’re going to make a submission on this Bill—which I highly recommend you do—here are some topics to concentrate on.
- The current Bill only tinkers around the edges while the Law Commission asks for comprehensive reform. This means addressing a broad range of problems from regulating the supply of alcohol, to price, advertising, reducing demand and increasing treatment options.
- The Bill totally neglects the impact that advertising and sponsorship have on peoples’ drinking. We’d like to see proper enforcement of advertising standards for liquor and a move to remove all alcohol advertising and sponsorship from our TV screens, billboards and sports stars chests within two years.
- More than 19 countries require health warnings on alcoholic products. We don’t and the Alcohol reform Bill doesn’t even touch the subject. We think that with over 500 babies being born in New Zealand every year with Foetal alcohol spectrum disorder that a small reminder on the side of the bottle is worth it.
- Importantly the bill does not address price. Literally hundreds of public health studies show that the easiest way to reduce excess alcohol consumption is to increase price.
So if you want to help change New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture for the better please submit by this Friday.