Make drunkenness socially unacceptable
Changing the Kiwi booze culture
Tightening laws for alcohol abuse is like trying to stop the tide from coming in. So long as people are intent on getting drunk they will find a way.
What's needed is an effort to change our culture to make drunkenness socially unacceptable.
When I asked some 23-year-olds about their drinking habits they told me they had reduced their drinking, but when they were 17 to 21-year-old students they drank like fish.
They all talked about how stupid their drinking habits had been and how they wished they had not drunk so much, but since their friends also drank to excess they couldn't imagine it any other way.
I also talked to 15-year-olds who spoke of the relief they enjoyed in finding a group of friends who did not abuse alcohol. This meant they no longer had to drink to excess to fit in.
In other words, people drink to excess because their friends do. So we need a powerful, social marketing campaign that makes it socially unacceptable to be drunk.
The campaign needs to be big enough to compete with all of the powerful pro-alcohol messages that are foisted on us.
Research shows that for every hour of television with drink moderation messages, there are 300 hours of pro-alcohol messages.
Alcohol abuse is not normal in every country, but it is normal in New Zealand. Let's change what's normal.
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