Limiting the alcohol content of ready-to-drinks (RTDs) will go some way to addressing New Zealand’s binge drinking culture, Mt Roskill Labour MP Phil Goff, says.
Releasing an amendment he will move to the Alcohol Reform Bill when it is next debated in Parliament, Mr Goff said it would restrict the level of alcohol content in ready-to-drink or alcopops to 5 per cent and to no more than 1.5 standard drinks per bottle.
“RTDs are marketed to appeal to young drinkers. Their sweet taste masks the alcohol content, making them more palatable to young people and easier to drink.
“The Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council reports that 43 per cent of underage drinkers had consumed RTDs their last drinking occasion, while around 62 per cent of female school age drinkers said they mainly preferred RTDs.
“Now Parliament has declined to increase the purchase age of alcohol to 20, action to restrict the alcohol content of RTDs may be one of the most important actions we can take to reduce the excessive consumption of alcohol by young drinkers.
“It’s a moderate measure, but with up to 500,000 alcopops sold in New Zealand each day, cutting back the alcohol content from 8 per cent or more down to 5 per cent would significantly reduce the level of alcohol consumed by young people, and the resultant degree of intoxication.
“The Government has already backed down on regulating the sale of RTDs. Now it needs to show some courage and not cave in to the liquor industry - which has a commercial interest in promoting alcohol consumption – again.
“The industry has had years to self-regulate. It hasn’t, and it won’t. It’s like putting the fox in charge of the hen house.
“Instead of listening to vested interests in the liquor industry, Minister Judith Collins should listen to the liquor licensing inspectors she tasks with reducing harm from alcohol. They along with the majority of submitters to the Royal Commission on Alcohol, have pinpointed cheap, high strength RTDs as the drink of choice for those, especially young drinkers, who want to drink to excess.
“By supporting this amendment, Parliamentarians can make a real difference in helping to address and reduce this problem,” Phil Goff said.