Rich women most likely ED drunks

ANDREA O'NEIL AND KERRY MCBRIDE
Last updated 05:00 08/05/2013

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Young women from Porirua's affluent areas are being admitted to hospital for drunkenness at higher rates, while in the poorer parts of town young men are more likely to be taken to the emergency department.

Young Plimmerton women are being admitted to Wellington Hospital's ED at nearly four times the rate of their peers in the region.

Women aged 15 to 34 of Ranui and the Discovery area of Whitby are also being treated in hospital at higher rates.

Regional Public Health's Stephen Palmer said the rates of admittance mainly related to young women pre-loading at home before hitting Courtenay Place to go clubbing.

Meanwhile, drunk young men from Waitangirua and Cannons Creek were frequenting ED more so than other 15 to 24-year-old Wellington males.

Emergency medicine specialist Paul Quigley said pre-loading at home was a major contributing factor to young people ending up in his department on a Friday or Saturday night.

"Off-licences' prices are so much cheaper. That's a bit of a disaster really."

He said it was hard to pinpoint why different areas had higher rates of hospitalisation, but affluent young women were more likely to have disposable income to spend at liquor stores and bars than women in poorer areas.

Increasing the price of "supercheap" booze and limiting the number of bottle stores would have "such an influence" on young people's ability to drink till they passed out, or worse, Dr Quigley said.

The statistics come from a Porirua City Council issues paper on the sale and consumption of alcohol in the city.

It was released to spur debate before a Local Alcohol Policy is drafted later this yearto look at trading hours and locations for on and off-licences, and bylaws on alcohol in public spaces.

Dr Palmer said there was no concrete explanation why young affluent women and young disadvantaged men in particular were bingeing before clubbing, but feedback on the council's paper could shed light on this.

However, high numbers of alcohol outlets in eastern Porirua could explain the male statistics as that side of the city had the most per person in the region.

The paper also said a third of Porirua's crime was alcohol-related and that more Pakeha high school pupils drank than their Maori and Pacific Island peers.

People from richer suburbs were also likely to drink more, in contrast with those from deprived areas who were more likely to binge drink.

Feedback on concerns around alcohol access and behaviours will be gathered on a new council website, Inspire Porirua.

Eastern ward councillor Litea Ah Hoi said liquor stores in residential areas and near schools needed addressing, as well as excessive drinking.

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Changing the culture could not be solved with a single policy, but placing community-driven restrictions on trading hours, or introducing alcohol bans to areas could help, she said.

Porirua Healthy Safer City Trust manager Jenny Lester said results from a survey of 800 people this month on attitudes to alcohol would be referred to the council for use in the draft policy.

Senior Sergeant Steve Sargent, of the Porirua police alcohol harm reduction team, said the policy needed to suit different areas without overcomplicating things.

"If we have different rules for Cannons Creek or Waitangirua or Mana, then it's going to get messy. It should be evenhanded..."

LOCAL ALCOHOL POLICIES

- Wellington City Council: Received 250 submissions. Draft policy to be released for public consultation on July 2.

- Hutt and Upper Hutt city councils: Survey of 1000 residents completed late last year. Results now published and committees to make recommendations to councils.

- Kapiti Coast District Council: Consultation on permanent alcohol-free zones closed last month. Council will decide whether to introduce zones.

- Hastings District Council: Public consultation open until May 17, with a final policy to be produced in collaboration with Napier City Council before Christmas.

- Masterton District Council: Drafting a policy for public consultation with Carterton and South Wairarapa district councils.

- The Dominion Post

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