Calls for NZ to introduce a minimum price of alcohol in stores

NZ 03/05/2018

There are calls to introduce minimum alcohol prices to New Zealand after a similar scheme was introduced to Scotland on Tuesday (local time).

In an effort to combat youth and binge-drinking, every 10 millilitres of pure alcohol must now cost more than 50 pence (NZ$0.97). Strong white cider and cheap vodka and whisky will be hit hardest by the price increases.

The Scottish government claims the minimum pricing will decrease consumption and save lives - and health groups want it here as well.

"If you do have an issue with it, even in pockets, and people are drinking very high-strength cheap alcohol I would definitely say it is something you should consider," Dr Christine Goodall, director of the Scottish charity Medics Against Violence told RadioLIVE.

Statistics NZ figures show the drinking habits for more than a third of people aged 18-24 could be potentially hazardous - regularly consuming six more drinks in a single session.

"New Zealand research shows heavy drinkers are twice as likely to buy low-priced products. Minimum Unit Pricing targets these heavy drinkers whilst having minimal impact on moderate or low-risk drinkers."

The Drug Foundation says if a minimum price of $1.20 was set per standard drink, a 750ml bottle of wine with 13 percent alcohol content would cost a minimum of $9.24 - which most do already - but a 3L cask that would normally sell for $23 would now cost at least $36.

But researcher Jenesa Jeram warns minimum pricing could drive hazardous drinkers to even more dangerous substances.

"Those who engage in harmful drinking are probably most at risk of switching to more harmful alternatives or substances," she told Newshub.

"Synthetic drugs or methylated spirits could be substitutes for those who are price sensitive but suffer from alcohol addiction."