Alcohol taxation is probably the most effective tool we have to reduce alcohol-related harm says a paper released today by health advocates Alcohol Healthwatch.

Director Rebecca Williams says that an increase in alcohol taxation is a fair and effective way to reduce harmful alcohol consumption. Evidence shows that tax increases are one of the most cost effective ways to reduce harm and it places the burden of harm directly on those whose drinking is more likely to cause harm.

Alcohol Healthwatch calls for alcohol excise tax to be primarily used as a tool to lower levels of alcohol-related harm through its recommendation for an increase in alcohol tax that will result in price increases.

Increased price has been shown to curb excessive single-occasion drinking, reduce moderate to heavy drinking as well as reduce youth drinking, as youth are particularly price sensitive. The current system wastes a huge opportunity to effectively reduce harm, says Williams.

Changes to the way tax is gathered and utilised are also recommended in order for the system to better target harms. Alcohol tax revenue must be channelled into harm prevention initiatives. Williams believes the public will support price increases if they can see that they, their families and communities are benefiting.

The paper points out that alcohol-related harm costs New Zealand between $4-16 billion per year and this is borne by everyone in this country. Cost measures cannot count the personal loss and grief of those affected by alcohol-related harm.

The taxation paper completes a set of five papers that form the basis for Alcohol Healthwatch’s Action on Liquor campaign. Williams says while taxation is very effective on its own, its effectiveness will be enhanced if all of their campaign policies are adopted. New Zealand drinking patterns are not getting any better and government needs to put the emphasis on strategies that are effective, not just popular.

For more information contact:
Rebecca Williams
Alcohol Healthwatch
Ph: 09 520 7035
Mobile 021 862 250
To know more about the Action on Liquor campaign and view the paper visit www.ahw.co.nz