Drinkers will re­place RTDS with straight spir­its, say re­tail­ers

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

Pro­posed changes to the rules around the sale of al­co­hol have left Mata­mata liquor store own­ers frus­trated.

The Al­co­hol Re­form Bill – which will soon go be­fore Par­lia­ment for a third time – would see a new split drink­ing age, with a pur­chase age of 18 in bars and restau­rants and 20 at liquor stores and su­per­mar­kets.

The bill also pro­poses to ban off-li­cence stores from sell­ing RTDs with more than 6 per cent al­co­hol con­tent and more than 1.5 stan­dard drinks per con­tainer.

Mata­mata Cheep Liquor owner Neville Cloth­ier said it was un­fair to have one rule for liquor stores and an­other for bars.

“I can’t un­der­stand the split age. They should choose one or the other,” he said.

“Why are they try­ing to make it eas­ier for bars and harder for liquor stores? It should be the same rules for ev­ery­one – we all have the same man­ager’s li­cence.”

A ban on RTDs with higher al­co­hol con­tent would see a shift to­wards young peo­ple buy­ing straight spir­its to mix them­selves, said Mr Cloth­ier.

“It’s too ex­pen­sive to buy RTDs at a bar, so they will buy a bot­tle of that stuff in­stead and then there’s no con­trol at all over what per- cen­t­age they make it.”

He was con­cerned that chang­ing the buy­ing age had the po­ten­tial to “cause more trou­ble” for liquor stores, with 18 and 19year-olds find­ing ways around the law.

“You’re go­ing to get all the older ones com­ing in and buy­ing it for them and will prob­a­bly get a bit more steal­ing as well,” he said.

Staff at Mata­mata Su­per Liquor, who de­clined to be named, were also unim­pressed with the idea of a split pur­chas­ing age, la­belling it as “clear as mud”.

The split was likely to leave cus­tomers con- fused and the Gov­ern­ment needed to stop tip- toe­ing around the is­sue, said one staff mem­ber.

“They need to come up with one age and stick with it, so ev­ery­one un­der­stands and knows what’s go­ing on.”

An­other staff mem­ber was con­cerned the leg­is­la­tion would give young peo­ple more in­cen­tive to drink away from home, which could lead to them drink­ing and driv­ing.

While al­co­hol re­tail­ers con­tem­plated the im­pli­ca­tions of the Al­co­hol Re­form Bill, oth­ers ques­tioned whether the pro­posed changes go far enough.

Stephen Preb­ble, who works in al­co­hol and drug as­sess­ment and in­ter­ven­tion, said the re­form was an op­por­tu­nity to put some real mea­sures in place

to pro­tect young peo­ple.

“The firmer we are now, the bet­ter,” he said.

“A lot of Ki­wis drink re­spon­si­bly, but for a cer­tain per­cent­age of peo­ple, al­co­hol is a prob­lem.”

Mr Preb­ble said the Gov­ern­ment was im­pos­ing in­creas­ingly strict reg­u­la­tions around the sale of tobacco, and should be en­forc­ing the same mea­sures for al­co­hol.

“Tobacco use takes the lives of an es­ti­mated 100 Ki­wis a week. Al­co­hol takes the lives of up to 20 a week.

“But al­co­hol-re­lated do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, rape, as­saults, car ac­ci­dents and fe­tal al­co­hol syn­drome, make al­co­hol a far more so­cially dam­ag­ing drug than tobacco,” he said.

Last month, the Labour Party tabled an amend­ment to the Gov­ern­ment’s Bill, propos­ing to set a min­i­mum price on the sale of al­co­hol.

Pric­ing was a ma­jor fac­tor in the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of al­co­hol, par­tic­u­larly among young drinkers, said Mr Preb­ble.

“Putting mea­sures into place here, when the dam­age can be very high and de­pen­dence can be­gin to de­velop, would help pre­vent long-term neg­a­tive ef­fects fur­ther in their lives, and of those around them,” he said.

If the Gov­ern­ment was to raise tax on the sale of al­co­hol, they could then in­vest that money into coun­ter­ing some of the harm it causes, he said.

Mr Preb­ble was also in sup­port of Labour’s lat­est call to fur­ther re­strict ad­ver­tis­ing of al­co­hol and said the over­all pur­chas­ing age should be re­stored to 20.

“I think just crack­ing down on ac­ces­si­bil­ity is a big thing,” he said.

Sergeant Gra­ham McGurk said 90 per cent of all vi­o­lence was as­so­ci­ated with al­co­hol.

“The ma­jor­ity of do­mes­tic in­ci­dents and acts of vi­o­lence [Mata­mata po­lice] deal with are fu­elled by al­co­hol,” he said.

“That has never changed. What has changed is the avail­abil­ity of RTDs, which are pur­posely de­signed and mar­keted to young peo­ple.”

RTDs were eas­ily avail­able, cheap, brightly coloured and easy to drink, mak­ing them a com­mon choice for young drinkers, said Mr McGurk.

In­de­pen­dent Liquor es­ti­mated that RTDs made up 12 per cent of the to­tal al­co­hol mar­ket in New Zealand by vol­ume.

Up to 180 mil­lion RTDs were sold in New Zealand each year, and more than half of these had an al­co­hol con­tent of 6 per cent or more.

Mr McGurk said he would like to see stronger re­stric­tions on the avail­abil­ity and mar­ket­ing of RTDs.

The Gov­ern­ment ini­tially pro­posed re­strict­ing all RTDs to no more than 5 per cent al­co­hol con­tent.

But this was later amended to 6 per cent, with higher strength drinks per­mit­ted in restau­rants and bars.

The re­form also in­cluded leg­is­la­tion which pro­hibits the pro­mo­tion or ad­ver­tis­ing of al­co­hol that would be likely to have “spe­cial ap­peal” to young peo­ple.

The Al­co­hol Re­form Bill is expected to have its third read­ing in Par­lia­ment later this month.

ni­cola.ste­wart@wrcn. co.nz Re­form: New leg­is­la­tion about the sale of al­co­hol in New Zealand will go be­fore Par­lia­ment again later this month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.