SPRING 2000 ISSUE 28

News & Views

The Newsletter of Alcohol Healthwatch
Parliament Ignores Warnings
Paracetamol carries information about its effects, why not alcohol!! paracetamol

On October 11, Members of Parliament voted 61-53, not to send the proposed alcohol health warnings Bill to the Health Select Committee for further consideration. The Private Members Bill sponsored by Dianne Yates, sought the introduction of health warning labels on all sealed alcohol containers. Health promotion workers throughout the country were shocked and disappointed at the news of Parliament's decision. Alcohol health warning labels have been considered a significant step forward in public health and a cost-effective way of raising public awareness about the dangers of alcohol.

Dianne Yates first proposed the health warning labels legislation as an amendment during lasts year's debate on the Sale of Liquor Act. On that occasion, Yates' initiative was defeated by just one vote! The failure of the proposed amendment prompted Dianne Yates to introduce her Private Member's Bill into the House this session. However, it is now clear that during the intervening period, the alcohol and advertising industries have lobbied MP's extensively, with the aim of killing the Bill before it reached the Select Committee stage. It is undoubtedly a measure of the perceived effectiveness of alcohol health warnings that the alcohol industry is so determine to stop them. Fetal Alcohol New Zealand (FANZ), Alcohol Healthwatch, the New Zealand Drug Foundation and the Public Health Association wrote to all MP's suggesting they support the Bill and vote for it to go to select committee.

Following the defeat of the Bill, Dianne Yates stated that she was disappointed, but would not give up. "There is still a petition before the Health Select Committee signed by over 7200 people (organised by, FANZ) aimed at putting health warnings on liquor containers. Given that one in five New Zealanders suffers from an alcohol-related illness at some time in their life, we cannot have too much education about the health risks of alcohol", said Yates.

The labels would have pointed out the risks of drinking when pregnant, drinking and driving, drinking and operating machinery and the general health effects. The intent of the Bill was to prevent ill health and disability by educating people about the risks associated with drinking alcohol.

The irony of the decision is that last year Parliament voted for changes in the Sale of Liquor Act which increased the availability of alcohol, on the proviso that there needed to be more education about the use of the product. Alcohol health warnings would have provided an excellent vehicle for this educational message.

"I challenge the alcohol industry to stop fighting against alcohol health warning labels and instead accept the educational role health warning labels have. The alcohol industry needs to take the bull by the horns on this issue and take some credit for putting warning labels on their products", said Dianne Yates after introducing the Bill.

Sport Means Money For Lion

Giant brewery Lion Nathan announced a 6.2 per cent higher net profit of $173.6 million for the year to August. According to Lion Nathan's chief executive Gordon Cairns, New Zealand had performed spectacularly well during the financial year, while Australia's performance was solid. Sales of Steinlager were 15 per cent higher on the back of its sponsorship of Team New Zealand's defence of the America's Cup.

Lion spent A$10 million on advertising and promotion during Sydney Olympics, but apparently the Olympics were žwere not good for the beer marketÓ. However, sport and alcohol remains big business. It has been reported from Australia that Lion Nathan has a žtreasure chestÓ of close to $NZ 50 million to spend on naming rights of major Australian sporting events. Those events on the hit list are said to include the Australian Football League Grand Final and the Australian Motor Racing Grand Prix. In 2001 Lion Nathan will take over sponsorship of the Melbourne Cup from Fosters.

Wrong Brand Stops Fans

Some rugby fans wearing clothing branded by Lion Breweries were banned from the NPC match between Canterbury and North Harbour at Jade Stadium as the Lion clothing was deemed to be in conflict with the Dominion Breweries sponsorship of the Canterbury Rugby Union. The Union accused Lion Breweries of tricking fans into thinking that it was the sponsor of Canterbury Rugby where in fact it was DB. Lion denied this allegation. According to Canterbury Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew Lion Breweries gave away 50 tickets and ponchos with Lion branding in an attempting to 'ambush' the new Dominion Breweries grandstand. Some fans who had unwittingly worn Lion gear had been upset when they were denied entry.

Mr Tew said Lion had been running a campaign that attempted to associate Canterbury Draught with the Canterbury Crusaders Super 12 team and the NPC teams which are sponsored by Dominion Breweries. Lion had been handing out NPC tickets at pubs along with ponchos and flags featuring Canterbury Draught advertisements. Lion corporate affairs and sponsorship director Graham Seatter said there had been no attempt to trick fans. "Lion sponsored the All Blacks but did not stop fans from going to test matches in DB gear" Seatter said.

Winston Turns Policy On Its Head

In a stunning about face New Zealand First Leader, Winston Peters has decided to throw his support behind the push by the liquor industry to put spirits on supermarket shelves.

Addressing key members of New Zealand's liquor industry yesterday, Mr Peters stated that the law that bars the sale of spirits in supermarkets žmakes no senseÓ. This is a significant change in position given that last year Winston and his New Zealand First colleagues voted against the sale of beer in supermarkets. Inevitably these statements raise questions about New Zealand First's credibility on alcohol health issues.

Wineries Pull Plug On Free Buses

Organisers of Waitakere's spring wine festival decided before the event to stop running free buses for the festival as passengers were getting too drunk. Guests at the Labour Weekend's Wine Waitakere event were told to use taxis or appoint a designated driver when they travelled between the three vineyards taking part.

According to Tony Soljans of Soljans Estate, the decision not to run the buses was taken after considerable deliberation. "The initial concept was to put buses on so people could get around and enjoy the festival and not drive on the road," says Mr Soljans.

"However, we found that some people were behaving irresponsibly and drinking more than they normally would. That wasn't the kind of impression that we wanted to create. People should go to a wine festival to enjoy the wine, food and entertainment, not to have a skinful".

The decision by the organisers not to provide buses raises issues relating to the Host Responsibility message, and alcohol health promotion generally. In recent years the emphasis has been on providing 'safe' transport and the use of a designated driver. However, in emphasising this message there is an underlying sub-text that it is okay to get drunk as long as you don't drive. Indeed this approach may undermine personal responsibility. As well as emphasising the message not to drink and drive, it is important to emphasis moderation when consumping alcohol. There is also an onus on organisers of such events not to 'over serve' people to the point of intoxication.

Has The LLA
   Lost Its Way?

Are its decisions out of touch with the community?

A series of recent decisions by the Liquor Licensing Authority (LLA) has seen a significant liberalisation in the way the Sale of Liquor Act is interpreted and as consequence, a watering down of the country's liquor licensing laws. Alcohol Healthwatch believes that collectively these decisions undermine the legislation and make the enforcement of the law relating to the sale and supply of alcohol more difficult.

Recently, two Pizza Hut outlets on Auckland's North Shore were granted a liquor license by the L.L.A. for the home delivery of alcohol with pizza.

Alcohol Healthwatch is concerned that the introduction of the delivery of alcohol with home delivery food, such as pizza will result in the law relating to the sale and supply of alcohol both to underage people and intoxicated people being circumvented. Workers delivering pizza or other types of home delivered food are often young or have English as a second language. These workers will find it difficult to refuse the delivery of alcohol. In the case of pizza delivery workers, most are paid per delivery so the onus is on them to make as many deliveries as possible. Was the L.L.A. aware of this when it made its decision?

In deciding to give these convenience stores/dairies a liquor license, Judge Gatley and the Liquor Licensing Authority appear to be going against the intent of Parliament on this issue. The L.L.A chairman argued that parameters of grocers and dairies had changed since the Act was introduced in 1989. However, Parliament in its review of the Sale of Liquor Act looked specifically at the issue of the sale of alcohol from dairies, and in 1999 voted against allowing the sale of alcohol from these shops. Indeed, in a similar example under the Victorian State liquor licensing legislation, convenience shops such as 7 to 11 businesses are specifically excluded from selling alcohol. The reason for this is because they are seen as places where young people hang out. The New Zealand legislation needs to follow a similar interpretation.

Also in Christchurch the LLA recently granted managers' certificates to two individuals who had recent convictions for drink and driving. The Police opposed both the applications.

In one instance the individual concerned had two convictions; one in 1997 and another in 1999. The most recent conviction was for driving with a 866 micrograms blood alcohol level. This is over twice the legal blood alcohol limit! A key role for any bar manager is to determine when people are intoxicated at their bars. It therefore seems ironic that the L.L.A is giving managers certificates to individuals who don't know when they themselves are over the legal blood alcohol level for driving. In making such decisions the L.L.A is out of touch with community expectations.

Gambling and Alcohol:
Two sides of the same coin

A recent study by researchers from Auckland University found that 80 per cent of pathological gamblers entering prison considered themselves to have alcohol or drug problems. The study of 100 žnewly receivedÓ prisoners found 24 per cent came within the range of being classified as probable pathological gamblers.

Road Safety Strategy 2010

The National Road Safety Committee released in October, the discussion document Road Safety Strategy 2010. The discussion document is the first stage in the consultative process for the announced major road safety strategy review being undertaken by the government. The goal of the Road Safety Strategy 2010 is that New Zealand achieves the same standards as the current safest countries in the world, such as Sweden and Victoria, Australia by 2010. These countries have already reduced their road toll to as low as 6 deaths per 100, 000 people or 1.2 deaths per 10,000 vehicles. This compares with New Zealand's 1999 statistics of 13.4 deaths per 100,000 people and 2.1 deaths per 10,000 vehicles. The intention is to introduce what are seen as the international 'best practices' in road safety, into the New Zealand roading environment. According to National Road Safety Committee the targets are both ambitious and achievable!

The Road Safety Strategy 2010 proposes three alternative scenarios. The enforcement option, the engineering option or a combination of the two. Depending on the choice of option, the Road Safety Strategy is estimated to cost an additional $28 million to $300-$350 million annually to achieve these road safety goals. The most costly option, engineering, would require road related spending to increase by 22.25%; the mixed option by 15-18% and the enforcement option only about 2 %. The enforcement option which would include a reduction in legal blood alcohol limits and more resources for compulsory breath testing, clearly provides the best cost benefit analysis.

A 50mg/100ml legal blood alcohol or lower, has become standard 'best practice' internationally including in Australia. Submissions on the Road Safety Strategy 2010 close on 22 December 2000 and can be sent to the LTSA, P.O. Box 2840, Wellington. (For further information please contact LTSA or Alcohol Healthwatch.)

Saving Lives
What a lower blood alcohol level would achieve!
Lowering the legal blood alcohol level to 50mg/100ml would result in a reduction of 32 deaths and about 640 serious injuries a year according to a report written by three Australian experts for the New Zealand Ministry of Transport. The Review Of The Safety (Administration) Programme Baseline, by Peter Vulcan and colleagues outlines how research found that there was an 8 per cent reduction in fatal accidents and a 7 per cent reduction in serious crashes in New South Wales associated with the reduction of the legal blood alcohol level from 80mg/100 ml to 50mg/100ml. A similar reduction in New Zealand would save approximately 32 lives.

The Review recommends lowering the legal blood alcohol level as a highly cost effective way of achieving the road safety targets set by the National Road Safety Plan in 1995. In 1999, New Zealand's road toll was 510 fatalities while the target for 2001 is to reduce this to 420 fatalities. If the government wants to achieve these goals it is time for it to stop messing around on this issue and to introduced a lower legal blood alcohol level in New Zealand!

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News & Views

Alcohol Healthwatch
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