Binge drinkers buy later

LIAM HYSLOP
Last updated 18:05 05/03/2014

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People who buy alcohol after 10pm are twice as likely to be binge drinkers or alcoholics than those who buy it earlier, new research shows.

The International Alcohol Study, led by Professor Sally Casswell, of Massey University, also found people who bought cheaper alcohol were more likely to drink a greater amount in one sitting.

The research was ongoing and covered New Zealand, Thailand, Scotland, England, Australia, Mongolia, South Africa and Vietnam.

This particular piece of research focused solely on the drinking habits of 1900 New Zealanders.

It found heavier drinkers bought cheaper alcohol and did so at later times.

Drinkers paying lower prices for their takeaway alcohol were twice as likely to drink larger amounts.

People who bought after 10pm were also twice as likely as those who bought before 10pm to end up drinking more than six standard drinks.

Lower prices paid in off-licence premises were also predictive of being a daily drinker, as was buying after 10pm.

The findings hold significance for councils in New Zealand, which were struggling to put through local alcohol policies aimed at reducing the hours which alcohol could be sold in their communities.

Many councils – including the Waipa, Thames-Coromandel, Waimakariri, Tasman and Timaru District Councils – have been met with appeals to their policies aimed at reducing the hours which alcohol can be sold outside the current 7am-11pm hours.

The appeals have come from a wide range of sources, but mainly originate from large supermarket and bottlestore chains.

In the past some of them have suggested there was no evidence to support a reduction in hours.

Casswell said the implications of the research findings for councils and communities were important and timely.

"It is the communities that have to deal with alcohol-related disorders and violence, which are linked to heavier drinking which is, in turn, linked to longer hours spent drinking," Casswell said.

"Sales from off-licence premises of takeaway alcohol have also been linked with family violence and child maltreatment."

Earlier stops on the sale of liquor could help to reduce some of the harm caused by abuse of alcohol, the research suggests.

The ongoing research would be able to inform communities about what was the best way to go forward with their policies, Casswell said.

"With this research we are seeking to better inform community policy in the countries taking part [in the study] about what is happening on the ground – what drinkers are buying, or obtaining via social supply, how much they are paying, where and when they buy and their exposure to alcohol marketing."

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The research would be able to compare the countries where no policy changes had occurred, to the ones where change had occurred – like New Zealand – to see how effective changes to alcohol policy were, Casswell said.

- Stuff

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