Alcohol harm reduction experts are deeply disappointed with Tauranga City Council’s draft
Local Alcohol Policy currently out for public consultation. They are calling for everyone to have
their say on the availability of the country’s most harmful drug.
“The Bay of Plenty has the second highest prevalence of hazardous drinking in the country
and high rates of alcohol-related admissions to hospital. Yet the draft policy fails to tackle the
major source of alcohol sales and harm, namely off-licences including supermarkets and bottle
stores” says Director of Alcohol Healthwatch, Dr Nicki Jackson.
In New Zealand, off-licences sell around 75% of all alcohol and often at the cheapest prices.
Their retail exteriors are often prominent with alcohol advertising and signs, increasing the
normalisation of alcohol in the community and exposing vulnerable persons, such as children
and those with alcohol use disorders, to the harms from alcohol advertising. But when Councils
have tried to reduce off-licence availability in their policies, they have faced lengthy and costly
legal appeals from the supermarkets and bottle stores.
“Almost two-thirds of Bay of Plenty residents support reducing the number of places that sell
alcohol. We can’t let the risk of legal appeals from the off-licence sector be placed ahead of
community wishes for greater control,” says Dr Jackson.
Dr Tony Farrell, local GP and Chair of Alcohol Action NZ, sees the harm from alcohol in his
local medical practice. “We are calling for earlier closing hours for off-licences and a halt to
the growth of off-licences in Tauranga’s most deprived neighbourhoods. It is unjust that our
bottle stores are disproportionately concentrated in areas of high deprivation. We are also
calling for no new bottle stores next to schools and other sensitive sites”, says Dr Farrell.
The only restriction to the availability of alcohol in the draft policy is from pubs, bars and clubs
in the City Centre, with the proposal to reduce their closing hour from 3am to 2am, thereby
bringing in an earlier one-way door policy at 1am.
“I fully support the reduction in on-licence trading hours, which is backed up by strong
research. However, off-licences must also close earlier, as we know this can reduce harm,
particularly to young people. Later alcohol purchases are more likely to be made by our
heaviest drinkers and this puts everyone at risk of harm”, says Dr Farrell.
“Every resident of, and visitor to, Tauranga stands to gain from a reduction in the availability
of alcohol. With less alcohol being consumed, we can improve our physical and mental health,
reduce family harm, have safer roads and communities, and lift employment and productivity.
We call on everyone to go to www.protectourfuture.org.nz to have their say by 5pm, December
20” ends Dr Jackson.
Dr Nicki Jackson – Alcohol Healthwatch 0211879749 firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Tony Farrell – Alcohol Action NZ 027457462 email@example.com
What is in the proposed Local Alcohol Policy.
The main changes in the proposed Tauranga City Council Local Alcohol Policy are to:
- have on-licences (pubs, bars, restaurants, etc.) and club licences in the Tauranga City Centre close at 2am instead of 3am
- have a one-way door policy from 1am instead of 2am (i.e. no new patrons entering after 1am)
What is missing in the proposed Local Alcohol Policy
- No provisions to restrict the growth of bottle/liquor stores, particularly in areas
experiencing high socio-economic deprivation
- No protections from bottle/liquor stores opening up near sensitive sites, such as
schools, Marae, hospitals, etc.
- No restrictions to the trading hours for off-licences, keeping the current closing time of