Change the Kiwi booze culture: Stop pre-loading

Last updated 11:30 13/12/2012
PRICEY TIPPLE: Do drinks in bars cost too much?

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The binge drinking culture in New Zealand is formed in part by the fact that drinking in bars is just not affordable any more and people are drawn more to the cheap off-licence purchase of alcohol.

The purchase of alcohol to be consumed at home or in other private events lends itself to binge behaviour. There is usually no formal supervision of how much alcohol is being drunk and people are making the most of the cheap alcohol before having to go to bars where alcohol is so expensive.

But binge drinking has not always been a problem in New Zealand. When most people drank at bars, drunkenness was not absent but the extent of it was nowhere near where it is today.

What I feel needs to happen is for off-licence alcohol prices to be raised and on-licence alcohol prices lowered, thus attracting drinkers away from the binge at home to the casual few beers at the pub where consumption can be limited by bar staff and others.

For example, I attended Knox College in Dunedin and we used to have our own supervised bar called The Buttery. The Buttery would serve cheap drinks, and this was often viewed by outside observers as being supportive of binge drinking.

But because The Buttery was a supervised bar, no one was ever too intoxicated and the cheap drinks attracted residents away from the hypothetical bottle of vodka they were about to scull and instead go to a common area to drink socially and responsibly.

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