The city council has added its voice to calls for tighter restrictions on the marketing of alcohol, and has slated supermarkets for the way they promote the product.
It has given its approval for Mayor 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 yesterday, 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," he 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 her problem was with normalising the antisocial 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 be more responsible a with alcohol sale. "When you walk in [to a supermarket], the first thing you hit is the booze."
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.
All councillors, apart from Cr Pauline Cotter, voted in support of Dalziel signing the statement.
- The Press
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