Unprecedented stand against liquor industry

Sunday 29 November 2009, 8:58AM

In an unprecedented public stand, over 300 of New Zealand's leading doctors and nurses have attacked the liquor industry for the way in which it markets alcohol "in the face of the enormous personal and social damage that heavy use of alcohol is causing". The statement has been signed by Dr Geoff Robinson, Chief Medical Officer at CCDHB and Prof Doug Sellman,  Director of the National Addiction Centre at Otago University and over 300 other health professionals.

1) In a public statement released this week, they state: "The tactics being employed by the liquor industry to prevent effective regulation of alcohol are the same as those used by the tobacco industry. These tactics are primarily designed to maintain the sale of high volumes of alcohol despite the fact... that 25% of New Zealand drinkers aged 16 years and over (700,000 people) show a sustained pattern of problematic drinking".

They go on to say that: "The sophisticated alcohol culture that was promised twenty years ago with the Sale of Liquor Act 1989 has turned out to be more of an endemic heavy binge drinking culture ... causing widespread alcohol-related health and social problems in society."

2) In response to the growing problem posed by alcohol and the industry's marketing tactics, the 300 doctors and nurses have made the following recommendations to the Law Commission which is currently reviewing liquor legislation in New Zealand. Known as the 5+ Solution, the recommendations are based on the most up to date research on how societies can reduce alcohol related harm and are endorsed by the World Health organisation.

The 5+ Solution

  •  Raise alcohol prices
  •  Raise the purchase age
  •  Reduce alcohol accessibility
  •  Reduce marketing and advertising
  •  Increase drink-driving counter-measures

PLUS: Increase treatment opportunities for heavy drinkers.

3) In another unprecedented move, some of these health professionals are so concerned about the harm being done by the liquor industry, they have established an action group and a website to address the problem. The group, called Alcohol Action NZ is promoting the 5+ Solution to the media, the public, the Law Commission and to politicians.  The intentions of the group and a full list of the signatories to the public statement can be found at