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Alcohol Laws in New Zealand - TOP

During our research into the extent of harm from cannabis prohibition that we published last week, we uncovered alarming data on harm from alcohol. And of course it is legal, and its regulation has been relaxed over the last decade or two. The question is whether we have become too liberal with our alcohol laws. Certainly compared with what we recommended for cannabis that seems to be the case. 

The sources of harm are very different to that from cannabis, where harm arising from the role of the criminal underworld and from processing users through the criminal justice system dominates. For alcohol, the harm relates to violence, accidents and anti-social activity that arise from drunk behaviour in public places and in the home. Injury costs make up ¼ of the total costs from all drug use, and alcohol makes up the vast majority (82%) of these injury costs.

Lower productivity on the job is also a major impact for all kinds of drugs.

What’s most telling is just how much greater such harm from alcohol use is compared to all other drugs. According to a study done back in 2005 alcohol is 3 times as harmful to our society as all other drugs put together.[1]

If we update the data into modern values, the harm from alcohol is estimated at over $6 billion per year. This can be compared with more recent estimates of harm from other drugs, which have a total cost under $2 billion. Of that, cannabis harm makes up around $1.3 billion and amphetamines at around $400 million. All together alcohol generates around 4.5 times the harm of the next most frequently used drug, cannabis.

This level of harm is mainly due to the sheer numbers of harmful alcohol users (over half a million), which dwarf the total dependent cannabis users (26,000) and P (1,400) users.

According to international estimates[2] some 50% of the costs associated with alcohol are avoidable through stricter regulation. In 2005 the Drug Foundation, followed by the Law Commission in 2010, deemed the relaxation of alcohol laws of 1999 a failure and recommended that the harm from alcohol had to be confronted by two main measures:

(a)  raising the age for purchase of alcohol back to 20 years old

(b)  raising the price of alcohol

Both these recommendations were ignored by the 2012 Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act which merely puts some limits on alcohol advertising and required parents to give express consent for their underage children to drink.

So the question is should we revisit our alcohol laws?

(1) Raising the age of purchase

 Since the relaxation of alcohol laws in 1999 there is good evidence of the ‘halo effect’; that teens are starting to drink even earlier;

  • There was a significant increase in hospital presentations of intoxicated people aged under 20;
  • There have been increases in the trends for rates of prosecutions for excess breath alcohol, road traffic crashes involving alcohol, and fatal road traffic crashes involving alcohol among several youth cohorts in the years after 1999;
  • The increase in alcohol-related crashes among 15 to 19 year olds was higher relative to older age groups in the four years following the law change, and the higher rate of increase in road traffic crashes among the younger age group has continued since. [3]

It is important to say that we don’t know for sure whether raising the alcohol age would reduce underage drinking and reverse these impacts. However, it seems reasonable to expect some reduction in harm, particularly since the harm from alcohol is centred amongst young people.

That’s why we are asking what you think!

(2) Increasing the Excise Tax

A 50% increase in the alcohol excise tax (as recommended by Palmer) would result in a 10% price increase on average. Currently different alcohols are taxed at different rates (a policy that favours wine and to a lesser extent beer over spirits). It would make sense to smooth this out at the same time, so some prices will increase by more than others.

We expect that a 10% price increase would decrease demand for alcohol by around 5%.[4] Again it is an inexact science about how much this would reduce the overall harm, and of course this analysis doesn’t take into account the social benefits that some people think they get from alcohol. However, as a ball park figure, a 5% reduction in alcohol harm would be worth around $300m to society.

Of course raising the tax also means more money for the Government coffers. Assuming the tax collect on alcohol excise is roughly $712m[5] that would mean an increase in tax revenue of around $300m. This money could be used to augment the solutions put forward in our cannabis policy, essentially promoting education and treatment for all drugs as well as after school activities for teenagers. In fact, given the investment in these areas from cannabis reform, there would be a significant sum left over, which we would want to invest in a boost for mental health funding more broadly.

So reducing harm from alcohol consumption is still very much a live issue in New Zealand. The Opportunities Party is working up a policy response.

Follow the link here and let us know how you feel about the current law and what, if any, changes you would make. 

 

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    • James Kane
      commented 2017-06-16 16:45:26 +1200
      Why is this survey so very different from the cannabis reform survey? There is a single multi-choice question, with no ‘other’ option, no way to expand upon the answer given and only two policies picked out of the multitude listed in the Law Commission report. What about the regulation of promotion and advertising? The changes to licensing? Removal of the excise tax on low-alcohol beverages? It feels like this survey is merely cursory and the policy is already decided – I was hoping for more involvement, as was the case for the cannabis reform survey.
    • Thomas Harris
      followed this page 2017-06-14 22:42:56 +1200
    • Thomas Harris
      followed this page 2017-06-14 21:44:48 +1200
    • John Stroh
      commented 2017-06-07 20:54:58 +1200
      Was just reading an interesting article in the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/06/even-moderate-drinking-can-damage-the-brain-claim-researchers

      …." In 2016, the Department of Health introduced new alcohol guidelines in the UK, recommending that both men and women drink no more than 14 units of alcohol each week – the equivalent of about six pints of beer or seven 175ml glasses of wine."

      One way of devising a policy to maintain the level of alcohol consumption recommended here would be to determine the average annual $spend of people who drink regularly, divide that number by 52 and then by 14 to arrive at a target price for one unit of alcohol at standard retail price. More complicated than that I suppose, but the price deterrent has the most appeal.
    • Matt Walkington
      commented 2017-06-07 16:26:43 +1200
      Here’s an policy idea, sans any evidence other than my personal observations, that I think is worth considering.

      I see the close relationship between gambling and alcohol as being a serious issue that needs to be investigated and address.

      It seems quite likely to me that there is a strong link between problem gambling and problem alcohol consumption.

      I think a policy that moves to eliminate the provision of both alcohol and gambling services on the same premises needs to be considered. At first thought it seems like it would be problematic and impractical. I wouldn’t, therefore, suggest rules that required complete separation of the two functions, because, for example, in an online world it would be impossible to prevent someone siting in licensed premises placing bets on their phone. Or just gambling and drinking at home.

      Rather the policy I would suggest is that gambling machines and the like could not be placed on licensed premises and that facilities that integrated both gambling and drinking would have to provide the gambling facilities in a separate rooms with only external access. Alcohol would not be allowed to be taken into the gambling zone.

      Having said I was basing this idea on my own observations, here’s some relevant evidence. I quote from http://walkerd.people.cofc.edu/pubs/2010/UNLV.pdf

      “The different risk factors for problem gambling have received significant attention in
      the literature. Johansson et al. (2008) summarize the research in this area. Among the risk
      factors that they classify as well-established are alcohol and drug use, two issues which
      we examine in this paper. The study by Ladouceur et al. (1999) confirms the association
      between problem gambling and drug and alcohol use, and shows that poor grades and
      delinquency may also be associated with problem gambling. The relationship between
      problem gambling and alcohol use disorders is examined by Grant et al. (2002), Stewart
      and Kushner (2005), and many others. Weite et al. (2004) provide further evidence of a
      relationship between alcohol and drug use, and other risk factors for problem gambling,
      using a large sample in the US. Vitaro et al. (2001) take a more general look at the risk
      factors of problem gambling, delinquency, and drug use among adolescents. Huang et
      al. (2007) focus on problem gambling and related disorders among US college student athletes.
      Other papers in the literature look at gambling behavior and mood/anxiety
      disorders (e.g., el-Guebaly et al. 2006). Still others look at the relationship between
      gambling and other problems, such as binge eating (Fischer and
      Smith 2007) and impulsivity (Nower et al. 2004).”
    • David Waters
      commented 2017-06-07 13:06:47 +1200
      Please do this.
      My involvement in teaching and youth work has just made it waaaaay too abundantly obvious that alcohol is causing so much harm. When a kid is born they make no decision of their own to be born into a life where alcohol abuse plays a role. But then they have to deal with the awful consequences.
      The effect alcohol has on such a huge group of people (youth), who are not at all able to make decisions on the role of alcohol in their life, is more than enough reason for me to be continuously perplexed that alcohol gets such a free pass.
      Young people can’t make that decision, and they also can’t vote, so I’m glad to see TOP giving us the opportunity to start addressing this issue.
    • Tony Farrell
      commented 2017-06-07 12:02:59 +1200
      A 50 % raise in excise tax would probably make your dozen of beer or bottle of wine a dollar or two dearer. This is offset by your taxes going into more health services, better infrastructure and other things. It is not really a punishment, more a redistribution of expenses. We all pay taxes and much of those are wasted when we could use appropriate researched levers to reduce death violence and addiction, and 60 different medical conditions. Purchase age is one of the levers. If all the levers are pulled at once, we get less problematic drinking. Raise purchase age , raise excise tax, reduce advertising , reduce availablity and increase drink driving countermeasures. Alcohol is also a drug that takes away judgement and impulse control , so even responsible drinkers can over do it sometimes. Its a drug that begets itself.
    • Reuben Morris
      commented 2017-06-07 11:27:04 +1200
      I really agree with this idea of someone finally realizing the harm that alcohol has on people and how it in some ways is more harmful than cannabis. I suggest that maintain the legal purchasing age of alcohol at 18 for drinks like beer and wine (relatively low alcohol content beverages) while we increase the purchasing age to 20 on ‘harder’ drinks such as spirits. This is a model similar to that adopted in Denmark.
      In terms of raising the tax and thus the consumer price on alcohol, I think this is not such a good idea. I understand that there will be a need to make up lost revenue from the reduction of sales (assuming the change in legislation is effective) but it will be a punishment of the people of New Zealand that do drink responsibly.
    • John Stroh
      commented 2017-06-07 06:44:36 +1200
      At last, a political party that has the guts to care about people in a genuine way. Looking back at my own life, all the big mistakes I have made in my life and most of the hurt I have inflicted on other people are directly related to consumption of alcohol. I do not drink at all any more in case I am a recovering alcoholic.
    • James Hart
      commented 2017-06-07 05:17:23 +1200
      Great to see yet again an evidence based approach here. As a 31 year old, my facebook feed is awash with posts referencing drinking to excess and being hungover etc, which highlights the terrible drinking culture we have in New Zealand. Not against raising the drinking age or increasing excise tax (although this will disproportionately hurt lower income earners). Could look at restricting the marketing of alcohol. I am currently in South Korea where booze is cheap as chips and available absolutely everywhere! It doesn’t outwardly seem as big of a problem as in enzed. I was disgusted to see the canes last year with Tui Golden Lager in huge font on the players shirts – could get some gains in restricting this type of promotion in conjunction with your suggestions.

      Loving my decision to become a member of TOP btw!
    • William Rea
      commented 2017-06-06 20:22:47 +1200
      I think the first and foremost thing that we should be doing is banning all alcohol advertising and sponsorship and increasing the visibility of warnings and information on alcoholic beverages, why is there nothing on high-proof alcohol to say that it can kill you and that alcohol is a Group 1 carcinogen, similar to arsenic, benzene and asbestos..?
    • Terence Lowe
      commented 2017-06-06 17:30:00 +1200
      I support a complete review of the licencing laws. My personal view is the harm from alcohol far outweighs any need for it.
    • Alister Feakin
      commented 2017-06-06 15:00:39 +1200
      I’d like to see the age of alcohol purchased off license go up to 20 years of age. On license purchases should stay at 18 years of age.

      Bars should be allowed 7am licenses in certain areas. 7am licenses gave Wellington a uniqueness.

      If taxed is increased on alcohol I’m happy for that to happen as long as that money is spent on education, health care and addiction.

      When drinking is part of the culture you should be careful how you control it. People will brew their own if it’s taxed too high.

      I’d also like to see the duty free allowances increased back to two cartons of cigarettes. That’s a travel perk that should’ve never been taken away.
    • Tony Farrell
      commented 2017-05-31 16:11:09 +1200
      Peter is bang on about bars closing. In Newcastle , Australia, violent assaults were reduced by 30 % by changing closing time from 0400 to 0300. Reducing availability is one of the 5 plus evidence based solutions to alcohol related harm . And yes, alcohol is relatively cheaper than in the past, but it has also been normalized as a daily commodity. Time to denormalize as alcohol would be classified as a class B agent if it were a new drug today- on an equivalent with morphine or amphetamine. So we need to stop advertising as occurs in France, reduce availability, increase the purchase age and increase excise tax. These evidence based measures if implemented together will help us all enjoy alcohol without a polluted social environment.
    • Peter Carey
      commented 2017-05-31 10:39:46 +1200
      Alcohol, in real terms, has never been cheaper. I think a case can be made to raise excise tax to deal with the problems caused, especially for education, prevention, heath and emergency care. Go to any hospital emergency department on a Saturday night and see what the effects of alcohol are. The other issue not raised is access. You can buy bulk alcohol at any time, restrict supermarket sales to 9 pm and off licenses to 10 pm. Bars should close by 2 or 3 am and no-one should be able to enter after 1 pm. Reduce the number of licenses similarly. You don’t need a dozen alcohol licenses in one South Auckland neighbourhood!
    • Tony Farrell
      commented 2017-05-30 16:00:44 +1200
      I understand the punishment concerns and the need to engage youth. However problematic drinking in young people occurs in about 12 per cent. Recently youth drinking has reduced, but the middle age and elderly cohorts are consuming more. There are about 700000 risky drinkers in New Zealand, about the populations of Wellington and Chch combined. This amounts to a great deal of harm. Alcohol is a high risk drug, not a low risk one , so while it seems harsh to “punish” people who consume more alcohol, to me it seems a fairer way to pay for the damage done. And it is backed by evidence, and evidence based approaches are not old fashioned at all. So rather than think of alcohol tax as taking something away, we could think of it as protective of public health and the economy to the benefit of all, including problem drinkers.
    • Hazel Purre
      commented 2017-05-30 14:30:13 +1200
      I can’t contribute to the online survey on alcohol abuse as there is NO OPTION for me to tick. like can’t mark the first box as somethifir definitely needs to be done about alcohol overuse in NZ. However, the actions recommended; increasing the price and/or raising the age limit, would do more harm than good. The heart of TOPS policies is engaging the young and those who feel disenfranchised, gathering enthusiasm and support for meaningful, fundamental change to our society. Increasing the alcohol price and the drinking age is just an old fashioned “wack them over the head” response to the problem.

      The overuse of alcohol and it’s appalling consequences are symptoms of a deeper malaise. I have on many, many occasions heard outwardly sensible and balanced 18 – 28 year olds talking about going out for the evening to get “wasted”. What’s that about? Why would otherwise clever, studying/working people want to regularly obliterate everything around them, be insensate for a few hours and then pay for it with a miserable hungover tomorrow.

      Another large group of unemployed youth have nothing to lose so why wouldn’t they have fun challenging the rest of us with obnoxious alcohol and drug induced behaviour.

      Others contributors to this discussion have posted eloquently about the negative impact of the actions on cash-strapped families proposed by the commission. I agree with them.

      We need an innovative approach to this problem. Part of the overall plan should be actions to address underlying cause of alcohol abuse. Why is the problem so much greater in NZ than in most countries?
    • Tony Farrell
      commented 2017-05-30 08:22:24 +1200
      Problem drinking is a complex problem. Doctors cannot be with the patient 24 hours per day. Drinking habits are ingrained in adolescence, and our alcohol ( ethanol ) industry knows this so it glamorizes drinking as sexy, creates crate days and increases addictogenic potential of alcohol by adding high dose sugar to spirits. How does a doctor treat a patient that needs to avoid alcohol as part of treatment, when the patient is offered a glass of wine at the hairdressers or sees that lovely drop of due on the outside of an advertised cocktail? Doctors have to use evidence to treat, and the evidence is clear: the environment is a major driver of alcohol problems. This is a public health emergency. 15 deaths per week from ethanol, one third from cancer and alcohol beverages are not even labelled. Roundup is less cancerous than ethanol, and the community worries about spraying it on council verges. The ethanol industry has taken advantage of the over commericialised environment but expects the community to clean up the mess. We should be listening to the WHO and implementing their evidence which is a halfway position between total free market and prohibition.
    • Genevieve Munro
      commented 2017-05-30 07:39:32 +1200
      I usually dislike it when cannabis and alcohol are compared as an argument, as they are quite dissimilar. However, this was a great read and I enjoyed it immensely!
      With regard to alcohol… Surely we can do better and see to the root of the problem. As New Zealanders we need to grow up, and drink with dignity, not like we are being “naughty”. Problem drinking needs doctors not taxes.
    • Tony Farrell
      commented 2017-05-29 15:36:07 +1200
      Our current alcohol policy is too liberal, if you are considering reducing harm from alcohol. The above proposed measures of increased excise tax and increased purchased age are backed up by WHO data. However for these changes to work, they are best backed up by the other harm reducing measures including : reduce or cease advertising , reduce availability of alcohol, increase drink driving countermeasures ( currently youth drinking is dropping and the semi recent reduction in allowable drink drive blood concentration may have had something to do with that) , as well as increased treatment for problem drinkers. This is what is known as the 5 plus solution. This was recommended by the law commission as the significant set of levers to reduce problematic drinking in New Zealand but was largely ignored by the National Government.

      Please note : 5 alcohol related cancer deaths per week in NZ. 300 alcohol related offences per day. Every new off licence 100 antisocial offences per annum. 70000 sexual and violent assaults per annum. 3000 estimated cases of Foetal alcohol syndrome per annum.

      Cost to tax payers 5 billion plus. Current tax take of alcohol : approximately one billion. So as tax payers we subsidise heavy drinkers to create a high level of harm. The alcohol industry supports individual responsibility and education as a solution- with not a shred of evidence to back this approach at all. In fact the business plans of alcohol companies have the 5 plus solution as the list of major threats to their bottom line.

      So well done TOP, evidence based approach, but please consider all the evidence. www.alcoholaction.co.nz .
    • Felicia Forbes
      commented 2017-05-29 13:13:25 +1200
      I agree with Marcos that banning alcohol advertising may help reduce the harm, but also, I think selling alcohol in the corner store where the problems reside is probably not a good idea either! Parents need to take more control and provide the vital education to their children, practice what they preach (in front of the kids anyway), take more care on what their kids are doing and where. Taxing alcohol I personally don’t think will be beneficial to anyone nor will it remove the problem.
    • Oliver Krollmann
      followed this page 2017-05-29 12:35:09 +1200
    • Marcos van Dam
      commented 2017-05-29 08:36:40 +1200
      I imagine that banning alcohol advertising and sponsorship would help to reduce the harm.
    • keith cook
      commented 2017-05-28 13:19:25 +1200
      With the figures above showing the cost to society, what ‘are’ the benefits in
      jobs and economic output? In other words, revenue generated and over
      all well being in a society that has a reasonable liberal approach to
      drinking alcohol. Free to choose your poison you could say.
      The downside costs are not to be ignored, one death or serious injury is
      one to many but we collectively are not responsible for an individuals
      folly. There are so many variables to this issue, like how do you measure
      one alcohol fueled incident that is spread over years and sometimes
      generations.

      To my mind all you can do is educate and show where it can lead, the
      misery it causes when taken to excess. Death, violence (rape, domestic)
      disease, poor mental and physical health for life duration, job loss,
      incarceration, self esteem issues, financial and material loss.

      Educate, offer and try to rehabilitate offending adults ( for criminal acts) but more importantly educate pre
      teens, high school students with independent unbiased evidence of the pitfalls, show alcohol does not make you special, does not fix and solve anything, comes with risks but
      is part of a active social life, events to be enjoyed and not a pressure to drink to conform.
      We have all seen people beat themselves up with the stuff while others
      embolden themselves. Alcohols transient reality with a hangover (or worse) and
      possibly shame, embarrassment and ridicule (that can be funny or not) but no real harm
      done but to the pocket and possibly a bruised ego.

      Taxing the hell out of it won’t work, another rival party could use it
      against you by simply changing a policy to gain votes, the last labour
      government downfall catch cry, ‘granny state’ comes to mind. It’s a
      deterrent with no real relationship to the deeper problem(s) It becomes a political football.

      Long term for science implications will be the ability to warn people via a DNA test of their inherent risk to alcohol, giving them a choice and perhaps a plan to ameliorate or regulate drinking habits for the good of their long term health. I don’t have a problem with this, ethically speaking.
    • Allen Cookson
      commented 2017-05-28 12:16:42 +1200
      Research has revealed heritable changes in the expression of a person’s underlying genome. This epigenetics can include switching on expression of alcohol addiction and obesity. So, exposure of a foetus to alcohol or a high blood sugar environment in utero can produce heritable alcoholism or obesity. As research continues, harmful inherited damage from recreational drugs such as p and cannabis can be expected to be revealed. In many cases there is no prospect of undoing the damage done. Those who care for such children know the difficulties they face. Even the most skilled carers are challenged. Some foster children become dangerous to other children and adults. Without government action, epigenetic damage will impose multibillion dollar extra economic costs on NZ.s, Sterilization of binge drinkers and users of banned recreational drugs must be given serious consideration. Otherwise a dependency ratio insupportable by productive taxpayers is unavoidable.

      A report by Berl (Business and Economics Research Limited) commissioned by the Ministry of Health and ACC, estimates the social costs of alcohol abuse conservatively at $4.8 billion, not much less than total agricultural output. An additional $661M social cost was attributed to joint alcohol and other drug use which could not be separated. Methodological considerations in the research make it almost certain that the true cost is significantly higher.

      Revenue from the alcohol excise is $ 795M a year, so non-drinkers and moderate drinkers are generously subsidizing the liquor industry and alcohol abusers though personal and other taxes which are passed on to consumers of goods and services in general as higher prices.

      Suppose liquor purchases could only be made with a special EFTPOS card which rejected exceeding a weekly alcohol cap (This would need a separate bar code giving the alcohol content of the item.), the objective of preventing excessive consumption would almost certainly be achieved.

      A card’s issue would depend upon age, criminal record and not assisting problem drinkers without a card. Banks would charge card holders setting up and running costs. A card would be deactivated at a bank if the holder were convicted of an alcohol related offence. The present situation, where irresponsible adults supply teenagers, would cease, firstly because the adults have a very limited purchase right, and secondly, they know they prejudice their own right to purchase if they supply underage drinkers.

      Special applications for large purchases by card holders who wish to supply alcohol at a function could be covered by a bond refundable if no guests committed alcohol related offences. Trouble would see the card holder denied further such purchases.

      Along with the above reform the alcohol excise should be markedlyreduced, so that moderate drinkers and retailers gain some benefit from the much larger reduction in abuse costs. This, unlike increasing alcohol tax, reduces the incentive for private manufacture of alcoholic beverages.

      I have made the above suggestions to both major parties, but the ministers have rejected or ignored them. Politicians commonly tinker with economic and social problems, committing themselves to policies which have been shown to fail. The Berl study shows the savings of significantly reducing the massive costs of alcohol abuse. An effective reform such as I suggest would be inexpensive to enforce and markedly improve social welfare, while avoiding collateral damage to moderate drinkers.
    • George Burrell
      commented 2017-05-28 11:44:45 +1200
      David, I see merit in learning to drink before driving. But driving is a challenge anyway, and we need to encourage young people to be learners while still at home with family, it worked for us. I am annoyed that driving can no longer start at 15. I can’t see alcohol age being lower than 15 or 16!
    • catherine OSullivan
      commented 2017-05-28 10:03:50 +1200
      Just reference I believe what Josie was referring is below here on the issue of Icelands success with alcohol and drug use. The Program was called Youth In Iceland.
      Laws were changed. It became illegal to buy tobacco under the age of 18 and alcohol under the age of 20, and tobacco and alcohol advertising was banned. Links between parents and school were strengthened through parental organisations which by law had to be established in every school, along with school councils with parent representatives. Parents were encouraged to attend talks on the importance of spending a quantity of time with their children rather than occasional “quality time”, on talking to their kids about their lives, on knowing who their kids were friends with, and on keeping their children home in the evenings.

      A law was also passed prohibiting children aged between 13 and 16 from being outside after 10pm in winter and midnight in summer. It’s still in effect today.

      Home and School, the national umbrella body for parental organisations, introduced agreements for parents to sign. The content varies depending on the age group, and individual organisations can decide what they want to include. For kids aged 13 and up, parents can pledge to follow all the recommendations, and also, for example, not to allow their kids to have unsupervised parties, not to buy alcohol for minors, and to keep an eye on the wellbeing of other children.
      These agreements educate parents but also help to strengthen their authority in the home, argues Hrefna Sigurjónsdóttir, director of Home and School. “Then it becomes harder to use the oldest excuse in the book: ‘But everybody else can!’”

      State funding was increased for organised sport, music, art, dance and other clubs, to give kids alternative ways to feel part of a group, and to feel good, rather than through using alcohol and drugs, and kids from low-income families received help to take part. In Reykjavik, for instance, where more than a third of the country’s population lives, a Leisure Card gives families 35,000 krona (£250) per year per child to pay for recreational activities.
    • David Leberknight
      commented 2017-05-28 08:15:36 +1200
      I ticked the box that says to raise the age and the tax, but was disappointed that there was no way to leave a comment at the same time, because I have serious doubts about both of these as TOP policy. I ticked these boxes because it is good for TOP to be consistent with cannabis and alcohol policy, and because (as we all know here) alcohol causes more harm than cannabis, BUT… I won’t repeat the great points from other TOP members, but I’ll add one new point: shouldn’t one learn to drink (to know one’s limits) BEFORE one learns to drive? This subject gets so hard so fast that I would recommend to TOP to punt (this is not good politics for this election year IMHO). Having said that, Good on you for inspiring discussion on the point!
    • Josie Amon
      commented 2017-05-28 07:27:41 +1200
      The Icelandic solution is the only one that makes sense to me. Give the kids something. Don’t take something away.
    • George Burrell
      commented 2017-05-27 20:58:36 +1200
      A lift on excise tax would be worthwhile. The difficulty is that alcohol is a Google servant for the majority, but a bad master for a minority. The age limit might be a tough sell.

      In terms of staking out good policy ground, what about reminding the government of THEIR goal for Smoke free New Zealand by 2025. Progress is nowhere near adequate. Smoking is an evil master for all smokers. Labour is predictably asleep on this issue (and most other issues actually). A good move in building toward 10 % of the vote. World Smoke free Day is 31 May.