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19 Mar 2018 12:09
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  •   Home > News > Health & Safety

    Govt not interested in alcohol tax hike

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won't be increasing liquor taxes after a lobby group argued it was the only way to curb Kiwis drinking excessively.

    The government won't be rushing to raise taxes on alcohol following a lobby group's claims raising the price is the only way to tackle the country's binge-drinking culture.

    Alcohol Healthwatch says the real price of wine is 30 per cent lower today than it was in 1988 and a bottle of wine can now be bought from a supermarket for $5.99.

    It argues the only way to stop Kiwis drinking excessively is to raise taxes on alcohol.

    But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told TV3's The AM Show that raising taxes on alcohol was "not something on our agenda".

    "I've always had the personal view that yes, we have issues with our drinking culture... [but] it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that we change that culture."

    Alcohol Healthwatch says a report it commissioned found the only age group that had reduced their drinking were adolescents.

    There had been an increase in people aged between 35 and 74 drinking hazardously. More than a third of the group were aged 35-54.

    "This is the generation that is driving our economy, raising our children, and running our country," executive director Nicki Jackson said.

    The best way to get more people drink less was to target their wallets, she said.

    "Evidence strongly suggests that to reverse these drinking trends and set New Zealand on a path where our potential is not hindered by our alcohol use, we need to increase the price of alcohol.

    "We hear urgent calls from our emergency department physicians for help with overflowing waiting rooms, so by reducing New Zealanders' alcohol consumption, we could greatly reduce the burden on our hospital staff."

    She said money raised through higher alcohol taxes could be spent on funding mental health and addiction or other social services.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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