New Zealand: Big Alcohol Fails in Schools
Big Alcohol has admitted their programme “Smashed” aimed at alcohol prevention for school kids has not yielded results.
The theatre programme “Smashed” has been used in about 30 countries and is currently being piloted in Auckland schools. The plan is to roll it out across the country.
“Smashed” is run by the Life Education Trust in New Zealand, and funded by the alcohol industry. Robert Brewer chief executive of Spirits NZ, an alcohol industry lobby group, denied that the programme promotes alcohol. He says it is aimed at delaying onset of alcohol consumption among youth. However he accepted there have been no tangible results of this programme actually reducing youth alcohol use.
As Nicki Jackson of Alcohol Healthwatch said, the supposed corporate social responsibility
We’ve seen this more and more in the last couple of years, of alcohol companies partnering with mental health organisations, with other charities, as a way to delay good policy happening,” said Nicki Jackson, as per Newshub.
The alcohol “non-reform” bill
New Zealand’s last significant update to alcohol legislation came in 2012, with the Alcohol Reform Bill. Dozens of recommendations from the Law Commission were rejected by the then-National Government.
We colloquially refer to [it] as the Alcohol Non-Reform Bill, because there weren’t any reforms in it,” said Joe Boden, and Otago University health researcher, as per Newshub.
Dr. Jackson said the three recommendations that would have had the biggest effect on reducing alcohol consumption and harm – price, availability and marketing – were rejected in these so called reforms.
Alcohol harm in New Zealand
Despite young generations across the Western world being more inclined for an alcohol-free life style, binge alcohol use in youth is rather high in New Zealand. Over half the youth between 15 to 19 years (54.4%) who use alcohol binge on it. Over one third of the alcohol users in New Zealand (above 15 years) binge on alcohol.
Research has found that CSR organizations and projects done by the alcohol industry are not independent of the industry as they claim. The projects routinely emphasize the importance of personal responsibility in dealing with alcohol and to reduce alcohol harm, instead of population-level measures and undermine public health policy action that would have population-wide effects.