RTDs linked to crime, crashes

Banning the sale of high strength pre-mixed alcohol products will help reduce the overall harm liquor causes, the head of the New Zealand Institute of Liquor Licensing Inspectors says.

The recommendation was one of many adopted by the Government as it considers changes to the sale and supply of alcohol.

Police have told the Taranaki Daily News that high strength RTD (ready-to-drink) products are a common denominator when attending incidents including violent offending, car crashes and serious crime.

Taranaki police were not able to comment directly on the proposed changes yesterday, saying all comment had to come from National Headquarters.

Five young people needed hospital treatment after alcohol-fuelled violence broke out at several 21st parties around South Taranaki zt the weekend.

A police officer spoken to at the time pointed the finger at pre-mixed bourbon and cola drinks.

Institute president Murray Clearwater said the bill would outlaw pre-mixed products with more than a five per cent alcohol content.

"That will see the 8 per cent and 12 per cent products disappear off the market, along with the two and three litre casks of spirit mixers," Mr Clearwater said.

The intent was to target products that looked and tasted like soft drinks, he said.

"They are the drink of choice for those that want to drink to excess."

Mr Clearwater said the institute supported the proposed split purchase age, 18 in bars and clubs and 20 from off-licences.

"It is too easy for a 16- or 17-year-old to have an 18-year-old friend who can purchase it for them.

"It will be more difficult for a 16- or 17-year-old to find someone 20 years or older to purchase it for them," he said.

With 60 per cent of alcohol provided by family and friends, the move would help stop booze from getting into the wrong hands, but Mr Clearwater said the community also needed to play its part.

"The drinking culture of New Zealand does need to change to a more moderate level and we need to increase our intolerance to intoxicated behaviour."

Mr Clearwater said he would like to have seen a minimum pricing regimen included in the bill but was pleased the Government had given itself the power to include it in the future.

"We believe it is an effective measure to control the excessive consumption of alcohol because heavy users of alcohol are price-sensitive," he said.

The institute was looking forward to the new provisions coming into effect.

"The new sale and supply of alcohol act will contain provisions that will encourage moderate consumption and provide incentives for licensed premises to sell and supply alcohol in a responsible manner," he said.

TIGHTER RULES

The Alcohol Reform Bill received almost 9000 submissions and the justice and electoral select committee has recommended 130 changes which the Government has agreed to.

The changes include: Introduce a minimum age of 20 to obtain a general manager's certificate.

Explicitly prohibit convenience stores from selling alcohol. Restrict supermarkets and grocery stores to displaying alcohol and advertising in one, non-prominent area of the store.

Require those who sell alcohol to provide price and sales data to help the Government decide if a minimum price is necessary.

Allow local authorities to establish alcohol policies for their areas.

Taranaki Daily News