A report released today by Water Safety New Zealand highlights the need to increase the distance between young people and alcohol consumption.

The report states that alcohol was involved in 28% of drowning deaths for the 15 -19 year old age group. These deaths are preventable.

These sorts of statistics strengthen calls for the purchase age to be returned to 20 years and for the issues of supply to young people to be more rigorously controlled.

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says these statistics again point to issues of easy access to alcohol by young people, given that most of these young people were under the current legal purchase age for alcohol. She says it also raises the issue of supervision of young people’s drinking.

These matters are up for debate in Parliament as a result of the drawing of Progressive MP Matt Robson’s Private Members Bill from the ballot box. Alcohol Healthwatch hopes that the debate on Mr Robson’s Bill, currently scheduled for June 8th, can be based firmly on the public health evidence for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Williams also believes it is time to consider the strong links between liquor industry sponsorship of water sport and recreational activities, for example surfing and fishing.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Williams
Alcohol Healthwatch
Ph: (09) 520 7035
Mob: 021 862 250
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

The report Circumstances surrounding drowning in those under 25 in New Zealand (1980-2002) is available on the WSNZ website http://www.watersafety.org.nz/news/index.asp