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Communities support greater restrictions on alcohol


Wednesday 14 December 2011 3:25pm

New research from the University of Otago shows that New Zealanders are highly supportive of local authority policies that restrict the availability and promotion of alcohol.

Research at the Injury Prevention Research Unit examined public support for local authority alcohol policies in seven communities. The findings, published in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed International Journal of Drug Policy, show that a majority of residents support earlier closing hours for pubs and bars, stricter enforcement of server laws, and removing alcohol advertising from local authority property. Over 70% of residents supported public area drinking bans and more people supported restrictions on alcohol outlet numbers than opposed them.

The survey involved 1,372 respondents randomly selected from the electoral roll, from North Shore, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Selwyn District, Dunedin, and Alexandra, with a response rate of 59%.

Study co-author Associate Professor Kypros Kypri says the findings are consistent with other research showing that most New Zealanders favour greater controls on alcohol. Although residents would like to see greater restrictions, local authorities’ ability to reduce the availability and promotion of alcohol is limited by legislation.

“While councils can determine the hours of sale, current legislation makes it impossible for them to control the number and density of alcohol outlets in their communities,” Associate Professor Kypri says.

Dealing with alcohol-related problems is expensive and time-consuming for local authorities. Developing and implementing control and prevention strategies imposes a burden on ratepayers because the costs are not covered by liquor licensing fees which are set by central government, he says.

The research team, led by Dr Brett Maclennan, also interviewed local authority staff about how they were responding to alcohol-related problems. Dr Maclennan says a sentiment expressed by many was that central government should play a greater role in dealing with alcohol-related harm and not just “pass the buck” on to local authorities.

“With the Alcohol Reform Bill currently before parliament, the Government has the opportunity to help communities by adopting legislation shown by research to be effective in reducing alcohol-related harm. This research shows the Government has the public’s support for such policies. We are concerned that the Alcohol Reform Bill, which is a faint shadow of the reform recommended by the Law Commission, will not give communities the powers they need to effectively regulate the sale and promotion of alcohol locally,” Associate Professor Kypri says.

Source: Maclennan B, Kypri K, Langley J, Room R (2012). Public sentiment towards alcohol and local government alcohol policies in New Zealand. International Journal of Drug Policy 23(1)45-53

For further information, contact

Associate Professor Kypros Kypri
Tel 64 3 479 5482

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