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Local policies will help reduce harm from alcohol

HELEN HARVEY
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2013

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Scientific studies have shown key areas of reform that are effective in reducing alcohol-related harm and the Government has avoided most of them, according to a leading reform advocate.

The importance of alcohol reforms will be discussed at public meetings in Hawera and New Plymouth today.

Professor Doug Sellman, who works in addiction treatment in Christchurch, will be focusing on local alcohol policies (LAPs).

LAPs will be drawn up by councils to develop policies around the sale and supply of alcohol in their area. Taranaki councils are planning to look at developing LAPs later in the year.

LAPs are important because they provide an opportunity to bring in measures that will reduce alcohol-related harm in our communities, Prof Sellman says.

National and international scientific studies had shown key areas of reform to be effective, including ending ultra-cheap alcohol, ending highly accessible alcohol and ending teenage purchase of alcohol, he said.

"The Government carefully avoided enacting any of these measures except for perhaps, ending highly accessible alcohol, which has been given to local communities to decide about via LAPs."

LAPs provide people with the opportunity to stop alcohol being easily accessible in their neighbourhoods by reducing the number of hours alcohol can be sold and decreasing the number of liquor outlets.

Everyone will have the opportunity to put forward their views.

"The hours of trading that are decided by the council will be the maximum hours allowable in the jurisdiction, by law. There is good evidence that less hours of trading are associated with less heavy drinking and in turn less alcohol damage."

People should get involved in LAPs only if they are concerned about alcohol damage, he says.

"If they are not particularly concerned about the injuries, broken glass, vomit, noise, deaths, abuse, chronic disease, assaults, and police, doctors, nurses, social workers, judges, prison officers and many other community workers' time being consumed by drunken citizens and which people pay for in their taxes, they should stay at home."

The meetings are on at the Community Centre in Hawera from 3.30pm to 4pm and in New Plymouth at St Mary's Hatherly Hall at 7.30pm.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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