New Zealand has a problem with alcohol. Never more so has the tension between our drinking culture and the need to change aspects been so evident. The Rugby World Cup, is becoming an glaring example of the disconnect between the promoters of the Cup and alcohol excesses that accompany it, and the medical profession who clean up the mess.
Our Government is colluding with the manufacturers of beer to brand the RWC with it's corporate image. But is it an image we want? Does playing rugby mean you have to consume beer? Or perhaps its really just becoming a big turn off.
Alcohol in New Zealand does not enjoy a long history like Europe and we lack the sophistication and intelligence it seems, of the Europeans to enjoy food and family along with a social drink.
The Government has now changed our drinking laws to impact most heavily on the young drinkers. Never mind that they are the ones the alcohol companies seek out to entice with new alcohol flavoured milkshakes and purple fizzy alcohol pops. What silly signals. "Life can't be enjoyed without alcohol?'
The real problem as I see it, is not the age of the drinkers; it is the price and availability of alcohol.
Get alcohol out of the supermarkets . It is not a food, and the cheap cheap price of wine and beer means alcohol is being sold at cost or even below cost to get you into the shop.
Alcohol is a drug and like other drugs that adults consume it needs to be sold at an R18 outlet. my approach would be to decriminalise cannabis, as it has the same popularity as tobacco and is enjoyed by a quarter of all adult new Zealanders regularly. Sell cigarettes, alcohol and cannabis at a one stop shop for adults R18 and kept behind a counter.
Unlike alcohol, cannabis is not responsible for the 75% of adult presentations at A&E during the weekend. Cannabis could be a safe alternative to alcohol and reduce the number of road accidents and deaths through liver disease. Cannabis is used safely in coffee clubs in Europe for over 30 years.
While many people will say, "we have enough problems with alcohol, we don't need another drug to deal with". I tend to see it as a solution and not a problem. Many former drinkers have switched to cannabis and now no longer drink alcohol.
The National Government has its own agenda and it does not really include, the young , the poor or those struggling with addiction.
I call for a campaign to remove alcohol from supermarkets. Its easy for me here ,because in Waitakere we have the Alcohol Licencing Trust and have no sales of alcohol from supermarkets. Its easy as. Its the same in Australia too. Alcohol is not food.