Progressive MP Matt Robson’s private members bill calling for the minimum purchase age for the alcohol to be returned to 20 years hits the mark according to Alcohol Healthwatch. Along with its other proposed amendments The Sale of Liquor (Youth Alcohol Harm Reduction) Amendment Bill, pulled out of the ballot box today, creates an important opportunity for parliamentary debate on the issue and puts alcohol firmly on the agenda in election year.
Director Rebecca Williams says that research shows that these types of measures will be effective at reducing harms, especially for young people. The bill has a strong focus on reducing young people’s access to alcohol and we applaud this. She also believes that the proposed amendments will meet public approval as they respond to many of the issues communities and families have been grappling with over recent times.
Evidence shows young people are drinking more heavily and at an earlier age. The lowered purchase age has exacerbated this and increased levels of supply to young people and lowered the defacto drinking age. The return of the purchase age to 20 years will help address this. Williams says the longer we can delay the onset of drinking the better.
The proposed inclusion of broadcast promotion of alcohol into the Sale of Liquor Act is especially significant. This puts alcohol advertising into a legal framework which is a great start. Alcohol Healthwatch would like to see all forms of alcohol marketing and promotion under statutory control. The inclusion of alcohol promotion in the Bill signifies that people are making those important links between alcohol marketing with consumption and harm which research confirms.
There are several other Private Members Bills concerning alcohol in the ballot box and we believe that MPs must be getting the message from their constituents that they want change.
Alcohol Healthwatch hopes the Bill will lift the discussion on other opportunities to improve New Zealand’s efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm, such as price and controlling other forms of alcohol promotion.
We urge the public to ensure their local MPs support this Bill through to select committee stage so that the public can have their say.
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Action on Liquor Campaign information and briefing papers (including one on amendments to the Sale of Liquor Act) can be found at www.ahw.co.nz