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Square Peg, Round Hole.
Why are you only attacking this problem from an economic standpoint? I understand the rational behind the tax but an economic-centric approach to what is predominantly a cultural problem really misses the point. In this country alcohol is simply a means to an end until pretty much our mid 20s - we drink to get drunk. Increasing the price and age does nothing to address this mentality. If you seriously want to address our drinking problem you need a well thought-out plan on how to change our attitude towards drinking, educating young people on how to drink and how to enjoy alcohol without the sole purpose being to get drunk. This is anecdotal I know, but I spent my mid teens in France, and even at the age of 14-15 there was already a fundamental difference between my attitude as a NZer towards alcohol and that of the French kids. I remember drinking with some friends after school. I had brought a bottle of Tequila from the local supermarket (illegal but they were very relaxed about it over there). Even at the age of 15 these kids all knew how to drink, how much they could drink and - perhaps most importantly - there was no pressure to get wasted. By the end they each had probably 1-2 shots each whereas I drank far too much, pressuring others to drink more with me (they all laughed at me of course). The outcome was me spewing in the local car park, eating a strawberry tart trying to sober up, while everyone else had a great time being only slightly tipsy. Those 15 year old French kids showed more wisdom in their approach to drinking than I have seen in 90% of people here, even all the way through 5 years of university and after. It is only now, at 24, that I am finding my peers are starting to respect alcohol more. Even then they are still miles behind those 15 year old french kids. So for me, any policy that fails to recognise that the problem its starting long before people are having access to alcohol - legally or illegally - is not something I can get behind. Rather than delay people's exposure to alcohol - hoping that they magically learn how to drink in that time - we need to prepare people. We need to normalise drinking only a small amount. Currently not drinking to get drunk is seen as a 'waste' by younger people - this needs to change. To be honest, if your policy was simply one line addressing this problem it would be enough - get rid of that attitude and you have solved our drinking problem. I have been a huge fan of TOP so far, but as it stands your alcohol policy is poorly thought-out and is so far below the bar you have set with many of your other policies. Show us a well thought out policy outside the historic toolbox of regulation and taxation. This is a deeply ingrained cultural issue, and thinking that simply delaying exposure and increasing the price is going to change anything is so delusional that I would rather you just did nothing. Better that than giving more credence to band-aid laws which deny the real problems with our drinking culture. Go back to the drawing board, this time with the sole purpose of solving the problem of "How do we make the notion of drinking not to get drunk normalised in young people?", because I swear to you, that is the crux of our problem.
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