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Government losing the plot on alcohol reform

Pint of beer

23 Aug | 2012

Weakening of the Alcohol Law Reform Bill will come at a human and financial cost to the country.

The Government’s latest move to enfeeble the Alcohol Law Reform Bill is bitterly disappointing, says The Salvation Army.

Amendments to the bill, allowing the alcohol industry to regulate itself over the sale and strength of alcopops defies logic, says Salvation Army social policy spokesman Major Campbell Roberts.

While the Government’s rhetoric on youth binge drinking has been both loud and a little misleading, it is now backing away from regulating a product that is the drink of choice of most teenagers, he says.

The Law Commission, in a report the reforms were based on, said RTDs were commonly used by binge drinkers, and were preferred drink for 14- to 24-year-olds, particularly women.

This follows the Government’s dismissal of peer-reviewed research and World Health Organisation’s recommendations of raising the price of a standard drink to reduce the damaged caused by alcohol, instead using a masters thesis to back its decision not to raise prices.

“You really have to wonder whether the Government is serious about reducing the human and fiscal cost of drinking when this bill is being diluted to such an appalling degree,” he says.

While the government plays tough with the tobacco industry, the profits of liquor companies appear to be more important than the wellbeing of New Zealanders, Major Roberts says.