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Change is coming

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 11/12/2013
Liquor

CHANGE COMING: New restrictions will be placed on liquor stores around the country from next week.

Liquor
HIGH HOPES: Joseph Liava’a hopes new liquor licensing laws will help change his suburb.

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Liquor law changes can't come soon enough, Glen Innes community leaders say.

Some say alcohol abuse is rife in the suburb and they hope a new policy will be a step in the right direction.

Changes include restricting off-licence trading hours to 7am to 11pm from December 18.

Glen Innes health worker Joseph Liava'a is a recovering alcoholic and says it is hard to steer clear of the tempting tipples available at a number of outlets in the suburb.

He says he has become more aware of "sneaky" advertising and product placement in stores since he gave up booze.

"It's there every day in your face. You really try and avoid it when you're trying not to drink but you have to go and get milk and bread and it's always there, even outside shops."

He says people should be as wary of alcohol as they are of other drugs because of the impact the addictive substance can have on relationships.

Underage swilling is becoming much more prominent in Glen Innes because alco-pops make it more appealing to the young.

"Alcohol here is cheaper than petrol and even a bottle of water sometimes.

"It's not like in the old days where we had to drink really disgusting spirits - there's no downside now until the next day. It's an addictive substance."

Local board member Josephine Bartley says the problem runs much deeper and the new laws do not go far enough.

"Around here you see people getting to the liquor shop early in the morning to buy their boxes.

"It adds to this culture of normalising the drinking. People start thinking it's normal for kids to drink - it's not."

In Glen Innes there are more than six bottle stores within a 3km radius of one another and some of them are adjacent to schools, churches and playcentres, she says.

Fenchurch Liquor Store is on the same block as Tamaki College.

"Students have said to me they feel unsafe and uncomfortable walking past the store with people drinking outside.

"It's not good and it's not what we want for our community."

But the outlet's owner Vas Patel says he has operated the off-licence for 23 years and the number of stores in the area is the real problem.

He asked the Government to place a cap on the number of liquor stores allowed in Glen Innes when he first opened but says the request was denied.

"We were one of only two liquor stores here at first. They should have curbed it ages ago."

Healthy Relationships in Tamaki co-ordinator Cristy Trewartha says alcohol issues are not just a Glen Innes problem.

"As a country we have massive issues with alcohol. It's certainly about oversupply," she says.

A council spokesperson says there are around 1200 off-licences in the Auckland area but the city does not hold figures for the numbers in each suburb.

The restriction of trading hours is part of a strategy to ensure the sale and supply of alcohol is regulated in a responsible way.

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The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 aims to reduce alcohol harm.

It includes restrictions on trading hours, advertising and promotions and encourages host responsibility.

Anyone applying for a liquor licence after December 18 will be subject to the new act.

National trading hours will apply to all affected outlets from that date and Local Alcohol Policies developed by councils to govern the supply, sale and consumption of alcohol will also be in force.

A draft plan will be released for full public consultation early next year with the final policy to be adopted at the end of 2014.

■ Go to justice.govt.nz for more information.

- East And Bays Courier

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