Board takes hard line on alcohol regulation

The Waikato District Health Board is sticking to a "less is better" approach to liquor, in spite of the misgivings of its chairman, Bob Simcock.

Mr Simcock admitted he was a little concerned about the "open-endedness" of a revised Alcohol Related Harm Position Statement devised by staff, which affirmed the organisation's staunch support for reducing the trading hours and density of alcohol retailers; increasing the price of alcohol; and increasing the legal purchasing age to 20 years, among other things.

The board endorsed the position statement at a meeting at Waikato Hospital yesterday, but not until after a discussion spurred by Mr Simcock's observation that the board should not be dogmatically opposed to every aspect of alcohol.

"We need to have a bit of balance . . . There is value to the community to be able to do something they enjoy."

Taking the health board's position to its logical conclusion, having no liquor available to the community would equate to no harm being caused by alcohol.

Population Health medical officer of health Richard Wall, who helped draft the statement, said because the board was an organisation dedicated to improving the health of the population in its area, reducing alcohol, and therefore the harm it causes, was a natural position to take.

Deputy chairwoman Sally Christie said the health board had a responsibility to have a clear stance on the issue, alongside local councils.

Board member Andrew Buckley said he believed the organisation's main role where alcohol was concerned was to help people recover from alcoholism and binge drinking.

"That's where we can be most effective."

Waikato Times