Alcohol cheaper than coffee – study

Between March and May of this year, the study surveyed ten licenced supermarkets and twelve bottle stores located in low socioeconomic areas of Tmaki Makaurau.

It discovered that beer, wine, and light spirits were all sold for less than a dollar apiece.

The cheapest heavy spirits and ready-to-drink beverages were priced at less than $1.20 for a standard drink.

Supermarkets had the cheapest alcohol, and wine was the cheapest due to its low taxation.

Nicki Jackson, Executive Director of Alcohol Healthwatch, explained that “In New Zealand, wine is taxed as if it contained 10% alcohol. In reality, white wine contains approximately 12.5 percent alcohol and red wine contains approximately 13.5 to 14.5 percent alcohol.”

Additionally, prices have not increased in lockstep with inflation.

A 3-litre cask wine cost $15 in 1988. It should cost $30.21 if prices increased in lockstep with inflation, but the study discovered that it could be purchased for $23.

“The low cost of alcohol exacerbates alcohol harm and undoubtedly contributes to an increase in lockdown drinking,” Dr Jackson said.

Lt Colonel Lynette Hutson, Salvation Army Assistant Territorial Secretary for Mission, added that low alcohol prices contribute to the development and maintenance of addiction.

“While we applaud the government’s decision to increase funding for addiction treatment, prevention must take precedence.”

Justice Minister Kris Faafoi confirmed in September that scoping for the review was underway.

He stated that any review of alcohol legislation would be consistent with Te Tiriti o Waitangi commitments and would be approved by Cabinet.

Dr Jackson recalled that the last time alcohol legislation was reviewed was in 2010.

“According to the Ministry of Justice [in a 2012 law review], a 10% increase in the price of alcohol would result in hundreds of millions of dollars in cost savings for ACC, as well as for our justice and health systems.”

According to Alcohol Healthwatch’s study, the Minister should implement evidence-based alcohol pricing policies, establish a minimum unit price, and increase the alcohol excise tax in order to reduce alcohol harm.

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