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Pricing Measures Needed In Liquor Laws, Nurses Say

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Pricing Measures Needed In Liquor Laws, Nurses Say

Wellington, Aug 25 NZPA - Nurses say proposed alcohol legislation misses the mark by not addressing the availability of cheap booze and is too focused on drinking among young people.

The proposed changes, announced yesterday, focus on reducing the proliferation of bottle stores, trading hours and liquor advertising, along with a split purchasing age of 18 for bars and restaurants and 20 for off-licences.

Early in the review process the Government shied away from increasing excise tax on alcohol to address concerns about the availability of cheap booze, and that has disappointed various groups.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) said today the Law Commission report on alcohol-related harm, on which the Government based its new legislation, was clear in recommending measures to force up the price of alcohol.

"Raising the price and curbing the marketing and advertising of alcohol are essential measures to reduce alcohol harm, but the Government has not had the courage to tackle those issues in its reform package," said NZNO president Nano Tunnicliff.

Opposition MPs and alcohol watchdogs have also pushed strongly in their push to include pricing measures in the legislation.

In its submission to the Law Commission the NZNO, which represents 45,000 nurses, said New Zealand's drinking culture should be seen and treated in the context of an endemic health problem.

It said nurses and midwives were daily witnesses to the effects of binge-drinking, alcoholism and foetal alcohol syndrome.

Ms Tunnicliff said while there was clearly a culture of heavy drinking among young people, and the proposed measures went some way to minimising harm in that age group, the reality was that the vast majority of heavy drinkers were aged over 20 and there was little focus on them in the reform package.

Justice Minister Simon Power, who was tasked with considering the Law Commission report, said yesterday he wasn't ignoring the pricing issue and that it could be looked at by the select committee which will deal with the bill he intends introducing around the middle of October.

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