- I already pay $10 for a pint – why are you increasing the price?
- Why are you targeting me when I only drink a few glasses a week?
- What about stronger regulation of alcohol marketing, sales and drink driving?
- 18 and 19 year olds will drink anyway, why bother increasing the drinking age?
Excise duty is levied per-unit of alcohol, and is expected to result in a 10% price increase on average. In practice it is unlikely to affect the price of craft beer bought in a bar much. There will be a far bigger proportional impact on the price of low cost alcohol bought from off-licenses and supermarkets.
In terms of a weekly budget, alcohol is now far more affordable than it was in the early 2000s. This excise duty increase is simply adjusting for inflation and wage increases as per the recommendation of the Law Commission Report.
The aim of an increase in price is to reduce problem drinking, particularly amongst heavy drinkers and young people whose developing brains can be adversely affected by binge drinking. The money raised will be used to plug the gaps in our mental health system and drug and alcohol treatment programs.
The current National Government has taken some action on the availability of alcohol and drink driving, which is explained briefly below. As for tightening alcohol sponsorship and marketing, this has the weakest evidence behind it in terms of reducing harm of all the available actions. TOP will keep a watching brief on the evidence base in this area.
In 2012 the Government allowed Local Authorities to create Local Alcohol Policies (LAPs) that theoretically allow locals greater say over the placement and hours of alcohol outlets. However this approach has been found to be legally lacking; in 2016 Dunedin City Council got taken to court for trying to implement them. The Opportunities Party would work with Local Authorities to review the LAPs and make sure they contain minimum standards plus the ability for local people to truly have a say over how alcohol is sold in their area.
In 2014 the National Government also lowered the allowable blood alcohol level from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (0.08), to 50mg (0.05). There are some countries with a lower blood alcohol limit than this, such as Norway and Sweden (0.02). TOP’s position is that we need to evaluate the impact of the recent change before any further decisions are made.
The original idea of lowering the drinking age was that it was recognition that 18 and 19 year olds were drinking alcohol anyway. There is evidence of the ‘halo effect’; the idea that lowering the drinking age has in turn lowered the “acceptable” drinking age, resulting in increased harmful drinking amongst those below the legal drinking age. NZ Police report that due to the halo effect, the de facto drinking age is now 14-17.