National | Drugs

New Zealand Drug Foundation want the minimum price for alcohol

The New Zealand Drug Foundation backs Scotland's stance on implementing a minimum price for alcohol and is encouraging New Zealand to do the same. Executive Director Ross Bell told Kawekōrero they're not the only ones backing the move by Scotland, the Law Commission also made the same recommendations for Aotearoa.

"It's probably the most important thing New Zealand could do, anything around changing the price influences behaviour," says Bell.

Scotland is the first country in the world to introduce a law that enforces a minimum price per unit of alcohol, a law their Government believes will save lives. Alcohol is behind the deaths of 600-1000 New Zealanders every year. Bell says there is strong backing that introducing a minimum price would be the right move for this country as well.

"It can influence the behaviour of young people's drinking, to slow down young people's drinking, you can prevent moderate drinkers becoming heavy drinkers, and importantly you can also influence the drinking of people who currently have heavy drinking problems."

Some sceptics say this will only affect those on the lower end of the pay scale and that heavy drinkers and those addicted to alcohol will still find a way to access alcohol, with other areas like food being cut back.

"That is certainly one of the arguments that the alcohol industry puts up, they say these people are addicted they're always going to keep using, from research though, influencing the price whether through taxes of minimum pricing, you can change the behaviour of heavy drinkers."

Bell told Kawekōrero more investment into addiction treatment would long way and he believes New Zealand doesn't provide adequate treatment services for those with alcohol problems and left with nowhere to turn for support.