New Zealand: Growing Demand for Alcohol Policy Amid Addiction Crisis
Psychiatrists are calling for wide-ranging restrictions on alcohol, saying alcohol harm remains the most pervasive addiction problem in New Zealand.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists has thrown its support behind a call by The New Zealand Medical Journal for strengthening of alcohol regulations to reduce the negative impact of alcohol on New Zealanders’ mental health and wellbeing.
Alcohol harm remains the most pervasive addiction problem in New Zealand,” said Dr Every-Palmer, deputy chair of the college’s New Zealand National Committee, as per TVNZ.
The college is calling for:
- Raising minimum age to purchase alcohol to 20 years,
- A cross-agency Government approach to start developing legislation to increase the price, curtail access and promotion of alcohol,
- Minimum price per unit of alcohol,
- Restricted hours for alcohol outlets,
- Restricted number of outlets selling alcohol,
- A ban on alcohol advertising, including stopping alcohol sponsorship at all sporting events.
As Dr John Gregson, deputy chair of the New Zealand Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, says. there is evidence that reducing the minimum age for alcohol consumption to 18 led to increased numbers of young people participating in harmful behaviours such as binge alcohol use.
According to an editorial in the latest edition of the New Zealand Medical Journal the recent report of the Inquiry into Mental Health and Addiction included a recommendation for the Government to strengthen alcohol regulations, but the Government has chosen to ignore this.
Alcohol harm in New Zealand
As WHO reports per capita alcohol consumption in New Zealand is higher than the average of the WHO Western Pacific region at 10.7 liters.
Over half (54.4%) the alcohol using youth between 15 to 19 years binge on the substance. 5.6% of men in New Zealand suffer from some alcohol use disorder which is also above the regional average.
The proposed policy measures by the The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists in restricting availability of alcohol, decreasing affordability, and banning advertising, sponsorship and promotion are the WHO recommended three best buys and are obviously needed to better protect children and youth, families and communities and society in New Zealand from pervasive and extensive levels of alcohol harm.