Figures released today by Statistics New Zealand
Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams says this increase in consumption is a seven year trend and puts the blame fairly and squarely in the hands of policy makers.
We have been seeing an increasing trend over the last seven years when, at the same time we have seen the proportion of the population that consumes most of the alcohol (15-39 year olds) shrink. Quite simply drinkers are drinking more.
She points to the lowered purchase age which added the 18 and 19 year old drinkers to the mix in 1999. This drinking demographic has become the heaviest drinking group in the population and undoubtedly is driving much of the increases.
The significant increase in spirit-based drinks (6.1 million litres) is also likely to be driven by the younger drinking population, with the popularity of Ready to Drink market (RTDs), particularly with young women.
Williams also points to broadcast advertising and the growth of alcohol sponsorship and other marketing strategies as a key factor. She says that the overall impact of current policies is finally showing up in the consumption data as a key indicator and makes a mockery of industry claims that advertising does not influence consumption. The current generation of young drinkers, who have been exposed to liberalised access to alcohol and its aggressive promotion through most of their lives, is where the biggest influence is evident.
Mature adults have to get over the fact that they themselves may not be influenced by these factors and consider the impact that they have on children and adolescents in their formative years.
The environment is perfect for generating consumption and maintaining our culture of excess. The harms resulting are a direct consequence.
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Action on Liquor Campaign information and briefing papers (including one on amendments to the Sale of Liquor Act and alcohol taxation) can be found at http://www.ahw.org.nz/page.php?92