National Drug Policy 'ironic and telling' – lobby group

  • 29/08/2015

A group campaigning for more fundamental changes to the country's drinking laws says the latest government policy on alcohol is again a watered-down old wives' remedy.

On Wednesday, the government released its 2015-2020 national drug policy, which says there will be an emphasis on minimising harm and more accountability from the agencies dealing with the problem.

Its release was perhaps overshadowed by parliament passing a law change that will allow bars to remain open early in the morning so punters can watch Rugby World Cup games on television.

Alcohol Action New Zealand says that is "ironic and telling".

"It is disappointing that the national drug policy in its approach to alcohol so completely fails to meet its stated aims," spokesman Sam McBride said in a statement.

There was nothing in the policy that included strategies shown to work, such as increasing price, reducing availability and reducing marketing and sponsorship, he said.

The policy chose to "encourage a positive shift in the culture of drinking and intoxication" but there was no evidence that worked, Dr McBride said.

Police and health professionals opposed parliament loosening up drinking laws to allow bars to open during the rugby tournament. However it was welcomed by the alcohol industry.

The move indicated that "commercialisation of alcohol is where the government's interest continues to lie", Dr McBride said.

The policy paper says alcohol and drug harm costs the country about $6.5 billion a year.