'Supermarket owners are the biggest drug dealers in the country' - Alcohol Action NZ

  • 27/02/2018

A lobby group says the only way to stop Kiwis drinking excessively is to raise the tax on liquor.

A February report commissioned by Alcohol Healthwatch found more alcohol was available per person in the October-December quarter of 2017 than at any other time in the past five years.

"Supermarket owners are the biggest drug dealers in the country," Alcohol Action NZ spokesman Doug Sellman says.

"We're not viewing alcohol as it is - it's a drug - and we're making it very available."

The report also found there had been an increase in people aged between 35 and 74 drinking hazardously, Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Dr Nicki Jackson said on Monday.

"This is the generation that is driving our economy, raising our children, and running our country," Ms Jackson said.

She said the only age group that had reduced their drinking were adolescents.

The best way to get more people to follow suit and drink less was to target their wallets, she said.

"The Government hasn't acted to make changes that the Law Commission called for back in 2010. We're just fiddling around with the regulations around alcohol - we need stronger regulations," Mr Sellman told The AM Show.

He says Alcohol Action NZ is looking "with interest" to see if the new Government will act.

"We have very cheap alcohol in New Zealand so the marketing of alcohol is a key thing

"The more alcohol you've got, the more alcohol-related harm we'll get."

Dr Jackson says the price of a bottle of wine is 30 percent lower today than it was in 1988.

"Bottles of wine can now be purchased for $5.99."

Dr Jackson said raising the excise tax on alcohol was fair because those who drank the most, paid the most.

"Around 20 percent of New Zealanders do not drink, yet they also pay the considerable cost of alcohol harm in our society," she said.

"We hear urgent calls from our emergency department physicians for help with overflowing waiting rooms, so by reducing New Zealanders' alcohol consumption, we could greatly reduce the burden on our hospital staff."

She said money raised through higher alcohol taxes could be spent on funding mental health and addiction or other social services.

NZN / Newshub.