Myth: “Alcohol reform will “punish” responsible drinkers”
Fact: Alcohol harm costs this country billions each year and this burden falls on all of us, drinkers and non-drinkers alike through, for example, the taxes we pay, overcrowding of health services, and the social harms of heavy drinking. The scientific evidence is clear that an integrated solution to the alcohol crisis, including price increases, a ban on advertising, and removing alcohol from supermarkets, will produce significant benefits for everyone. These benefits, both financial and social, will far outweigh minor price rises and inconvenience.
Myth: “Alcohol is a mild social lubricant”
Fact: Alcohol is a Class B equivalent drug. It causes aggression and depression and injuries of all kinds, is carcinogenic, fattening, and causes brain damage – to the drinker and to babies before birth. And it is addictive. Most of us do not think about alcohol in this way – but most of us know people or families who have been damaged by the effects of alcohol.
Myth: “The problem is a small minority of heavy drinkers”
Fact: NZ has 824,000 hazardous drinkers and over 20 deaths a week are directly related to alcohol. The economic cost of alcohol’s impact is billions of dollars per year – about 3% of GDP.
Myth: “It’s mainly a youth problem”
Fact: More than 90% of heavy drinkers are 20 years of age or over. Focusing attention on youth is a cynical tactic to blame young people when it is the adult drinking culture, driven by what Sir Geoffrey Palmer called “the unbridled commercialisation of alcohol” that is responsible.
Myth: “Law reforms are being pushed by “wowsers”
Fact: Alcohol experts and activists are promoting evidence-based policies – not prohibition.
Myth: “Education and personal responsibility is the key”
Fact: Education by itself is not effective in changing drinking behaviour. The commercial forces that determine the price, availability and exposure to advertising are so much more powerful. Marketing of alcohol is unregulated on digital platforms.
Myth: “It’s safe to drink alcohol at the level of the “guidelines”.
Fact: If you drink at the level of the alcohol drinking advice from the Health Promotion Agency throughout your life, you have a 1 in 100 chance of dying from alcohol use. There is no safe level, but less is safer.
Myth: “The drink driving limit has been lowered to a safe level”
Fact: This is only true for the youth limit of zero. International studies show benefits of lowering the adult blood alcohol limit to “virtual zero” of 0.002 or 0.003. Any alcohol affects ability to drive safely.