Higher booze tax conversation needs to be had - police

Long Lunch 16/08/2018
Photo: Getty.

There are calls for a higher tax on alcohol after  Ministry of Health figures revealed one in five adults drank alcohol in a way that could harm themselves or others in the past year.

Alcohol Action hosted a one-day conference on the issue in Wellington on Wednesday.

Eight keynote speakers looked at the alcohol harm on the economy, and the question of who should pay for the harm that comes from excessive alcohol consumption.

Alcohol costs New Zealand around $5 billion annually in lost wages and medical costs.

Senior Sergeant Graham Shields told RadioLIVE’s Wendyl Nissen it’s important for this discussion to be had.

“It’s good to have a number of agencies come together to talk about what alcohol harm actually looks like.

He says it’s not just one specific age group affected by harmful alcohol consumption.

“Young teenagers right through to people in the 60s – more likely to be people in their 20s through to their 50s, and from all walks of life.

“If you’ve got the ability to get alcohol, you’ve got the ability to be drinking harmfully,” he told RadioLIVE.

We’re babysitting a lot of drunk people.

Meanwhile a visiting economist and policy expert says New Zealand needs to double the excise tax on alcohol to help curb problem drinking.

Dr John Marsden says people who don't drink dangerously are paying the cost of problem drinking.

"The top twenty percent of drinkers, who are drinking well in excess of medical guidelines, account for 75 percent or thereabouts of total sales," he told The AM Show.

Dr Marsden said the best solution would be to approach alcohol similarly to smoking and push up the excise tax and make it more expensive.

His aim isn't to stop people drinking full stop, but rather cut down on the amount being drank in one session.

Listen to the full interview with Senior Sergeant Graham Shields above.

The Long Lunch with Wendyl Nissen, 12pm - 3pm on RadioLIVE and streaming live to the rova app on Android and iPhone.