We all want to live in safe, happy, and healthy communities. However, alcohol harm, including high availability and heavy marketing remain serious obstacles for people to enjoy safe, inclusive, and healthy communities. That is why people and communities in New Zealand are calling on the parliament to pass “The Sale and Supply of Alcohol (Harm Minimisation) Amendment Bill”.
This private members’ Bill by Member of Parliament (MP) Chloe Swarbrick was drawn from the ballot on June 30, 2022. Now it will receive its first reading in parliament.
The measures in the Bill include:
- Removing the appeals process from Local Alcohol Policies, which has been used extensively by supermarket and bottle store retailers backed by the Big Alcohol lobby to prevent or delay evidence-based public health action regarding common-sense limits to local alcohol availability,
- End alcohol sponsorship of broadcast sports, and
- Strengthen the criteria for District Licensing Committees to consider when making decisions on applications for a license to sell alcohol.
Communities are asking their members of parliament to go on the public record with their support of this Bill, vote for this Bill at first reading, and engage in the Select Committee process. Thousands have signed the petition by Alcohol Healthwatch.
Meanwhile, seven local councils have officially announced their support for a review of the current Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act. These include Auckland, Christchurch, Whanganui, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Hauraki, and Waipā councils.
The support by the councils shows that a review of the Act was long overdue. Communities of New Zealand, specifically Māori and Pacific Island communities, have been suffering the brunt of the harm caused by the alcohol industry.
One of the major harms caused by the products and practices of alcohol companies is increasing mental ill-health in people.
An analysis by the University of Otago found that one in four suicide deaths in New Zealand is linked to alcohol. The figures were even worse for Māori and Pacific Island communities. Out of all suicides between 2007 and 2020, 26.6% of those who died had a blood alcohol level higher than the legal driving limit (50ml for every 100ml of blood).
It’s abundantly clear we have a major public health problem in Aotearoa New Zealand with alcohol use now established as a significant risk factor for suicide,” said Dr. Rose Crossin, lecturer at the University of Otago and study author, as per Stuff.Dr. Rose Crossin, lecturer, University of Otago
For too long now, our Māori and Pacific Island communities bear the burden of [alcohol] harms,” said Selah Hart, chief executive of Hāpai Te Hauora (Māori Public Health), as per Stuff.Selah Hart, chief executive, Hāpai Te Hauora (Māori Public Health)
The authors of the study recommended:
- Urgent changes to New Zealand’s suicide prevention strategy,
- Reviewing the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act,
- Better limits on alcohol availability,
- Minimum unit pricing, and
- Better efforts to limit marketing in sport.
MP Chloe Swarbrick’s Bill would cover the four recommendations related to alcohol.
Reducing alcohol harm means better mental health, improved child wellbeing, reduced family harm, less pressure on our health system, less pressure on police and emergency services, and improved productivity and economic growth. Alcohol harm impacts almost everything we care about as New Zealanders,” writes the Alcohol Healthwatch.Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE)
The Bill could be read as early as August. It needs 61 votes from MPs to pass its first reading in Parliament to proceed to the Select Committee. After this, public consultation for the Bill would begin.
Support communities in New Zealand
Sign the petition by Alcohol Healthwatch, here.
Alcohol Healthwatch: “To: NZ House of Representatives Reduce Alcohol Harm: Pass the Bill!“