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Critical survey on alcohol reforms suppressed

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Serious questions must be asked about why new research documenting overwhelming public support for effective alcohol reforms was buried by Hon Peter Dunne's office

The level of public support for six key alcohol reforms was measured in a Health Sponsorship Council survey last year to inform the Alcohol Reform Bill process. The study was methodologically sound and the findings were startling, showing overwhelming support for major alcohol reforms. But the report never saw the light of day. Why?

The suppressed research shows very strong public support for the Government to control alcohol advertising if not ban it altogether, increase the price of cheap alcohol, raise the purchase age and reduce the hours when alcohol can be sold (see attached Table summarizing the results).

"A strength of the survey was the collection of alcohol use data as well as people's attitudes towards alcohol reform" said Professor Jennie Connor, a medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ.

"The patterns of drinking were consistent with other national studies indicating the sample of over 1700 people was representative of the whole population in terms of their own use of alcohol".

"There is nothing similar to this study in terms of understanding public attitudes towards alcohol reforms. The Ministry of Transport found strong public support for lowering the legal blood alcohol limit and that was the best indication we previously had that the majority of New Zealanders supported major alcohol control measures" she added.

"The comment from Peter Dunne's office that the data were not released because they were consistent with what was already known about public views at the time, including from the Law Commission, has no foundation, as there were no other reliable studies."

"This indicates deliberate suppression of key new information at a critical time of the alcohol law reform process that didn't suit Peter Dunne and the Government" added Professor Doug Sellman, another medical spokesperson for Alcohol Action NZ.

"Peter Dunne once again shows he is biased towards the alcohol industry and therefore should not be given any role on alcohol and health in John Key's new Government"

"The research was conducted by the Government through its Health Sponsorship Council and the results are clear, so it has no excuse to back away from effective alcohol reform anymore"

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