Debate heats up over minimum liquor pricing laws

May 4, 2018

Debate heats up over minimum liquor pricing laws

Jigjit Singh (left) and Sandeep Nafray are worried at how pricing laws could impact their business. Photo: Tiffany Salmond.

This week Scotland introduced minimum pricing laws for alcohol to crack down on problem drinkers which has sparked a debate.

A 2014 report revealed raising minimum pricing for alcohol would benefit New Zealand.

The issue has been raised again as alcohol lobbyists and harm researches weigh in on the debate.

Executive director of the New Zealand Alcohol Beverages Council Nick Leggett says he doesn’t see a purpose for the law and thinks it’s unlikely to work.

“The vast majority of people drink sensibly and moderately.

“Why should they be penalised for a policy designed to impact the few who drink too much, when it won’t even have the desired impact and reduce harm.”

Mr Leggett says alcohol consumption is decreasing in New Zealand, particularly among young people and has faith in the government to not implement pricing laws.

Alcohol Healthwatch executive director Nicki Jackson says she congratulates Scotland on becoming the first nation to introduce the law after a five-year battle with the global alcohol industry.

“Today in New Zealand alcohol is more affordable than ever before.

“As a society we must take action on the harm that cheap alcohol does to our country.”

Ms Jackson says New Zealand research shows heavy drinkers are twice as likely to buy low-priced products. He says minimum pricing laws target heavy drinkers while having little impact on moderate or low-risk drinkers.

“In parts of Canada this policy has reduced crime, alcohol-related deaths and Emergency Department admissions, as well as chronic health harms related to alcohol use.

“This is good for everyone,” says Ms Jackson.

The Bottle-O manager Jagjit Singh says he is worried about the impact the pricing law will have on the business if it is introduced.

“It will definitely affect the business,

“Many people come in and buy Cody’s, you know it’s just $8 for four cans.

“Or they’ll buy some cheap beers so if that was to stop it will definitely affect us.”

Mr Singh says raising alcohol prices will not deter heavy drinkers and thinks the government could think of a better way to help New Zealand’s drinking problem.

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