Public health groups call for higher alcohol prices

  • 24/01/2018
"Our communities paid the price. Now is the time for this to be remedied."
"Our communities paid the price. Now is the time for this to be remedied." Photo credit: Getty

Public health groups want the government to consider raising the alcohol tax by 50 percent as part of their inquiry into mental health and addiction services.

The Government announced on Tuesday the terms of reference for the mental health inquiry, which includes reviewing addiction services.

"Mental health and addiction are often interlinked - they need to be considered alongside one another," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Alcohol Healthwatch and Hapai te Hauora are now encouraging the Government to consider raising the price of alcohol as part of the inquiry.

Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Nicki Jackson says last week she recommended to the finance and expenditure select committee that excise tax on alcohol be raised by 50 percent.

"The Government has stated that all solutions to improve our mental health are on the table - research shows that one solution to our shameful suicide rates is to raise the price of alcohol.

"This approach is particularly effective in reducing suicide among young males."

Hapai te Hauora spokesman Anthony Hawke says the link between drinking and poor mental health needs to be addressed.

"In 2012 we had the chance to raise the price of alcohol and save lives. We didn't. Our communities paid the price. Now is the time for this to be remedied."

Hapai te Hauora campaigned in 2012 to have a minimum price on alcohol during the drafting of the Alcohol Reform Bill, but it was dismissed by then prime minister John Key.

NZN