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Council backs crackdown on alcohol

LOIS CAIRNS AND RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 11:58 14/08/2014
Lianne Dalziel
Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ

CHRISTCHURCH MAYOR: Lianne Dalziel said she did not want to sign the Call for Alcohol Action without first getting the backing of the council.

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The city council has added its voice to calls for tougher restrictions on the marketing of alcohol and has slammed supermarkets for the way they promote the product.

It has given its approval for Lianne Dalziel to become the first mayor in New Zealand to sign the Call for Action on Alcohol statement, which asks the incoming government to introduce new laws to phase out alcohol advertising and sponsorship and increase the price of alcohol through the introduction of minimum unit prices and higher taxes.

Addressing the council this morning, Alcohol Action New Zealand medical spokesman Professor Doug Sellman said the social costs of alcohol consumption in New Zealand had been calculated at $5 billion a year.

The aim of the Call for Alcohol Action was to halve the harm caused by alcohol.

"We're now calling on the various councils in New Zealand to join in this initiative. We thought it was very appropriate to begin here . . . because our mayor, when she was an MP, was one of the real champions in Parliament for alcohol reform,'' Sellman said.

Cr Phil Clearwater said the combination of interventions proposed by Alcohol Action would help change the drinking culture in New Zealand and rejected any suggestion that it was a move towards a nanny state.

"This is about changing our culture for the good of our people,'' Clearwater said.

Cr Paul Lonsdale said the root of the problem was that supermarkets had normalised alcohol.

"That whole normalisation is taking the alcohol sales in supermarkets to the No 1 category. It's surpassing butter and bread. They loss leader it [alcohol] as far as sales go. We have to think of some way to hinder their trade."

Cr Ali Jones said she did not have any problem with normalising alcohol. What she did have an issue with was normalising the anti-social behaviour that often went with alcohol consumption.

"We have to be very careful we don't penalise those who are sensible with alcohol,'' Jones said.

Cr David East said supermarkets needed to take a more responsible approach to the way they sell alcohol.

"When you walk in [to a supermarket] the first thing you hit is the booze," he said.

"If we are going to be effective, then the supermarkets need to take a responsible lead for a start and not have a focus on alcohol, and this practice of loss leaders is diabolical and does nothing to reduce the . . .  alcohol problems in the country."

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said her views on the need for alcohol reform were well known, but she did not want to sign the Call for Alcohol Action without first getting the backing of the council.

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All councillors, apart from Cr Pauline Cotter, voted in support of Dalziel signing the statement.

- The Press

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