Age stays same now change attitude

August 31, 2012

Now that a majority of MPs have voted in favour of keeping the purchase age of alcohol it’s time to concentrate on measures which will change the attitude to alcohol abuse and misuse.

Justice Minsiter Judith Collins says:

“Our Alcohol Reform Bill aims to drive lasting change to our drinking culture, and has a wide range of measures to reduce alcohol-related harm in our families and communities.

“I am very pleased to be leading this Bill through Parliament. This is the first time in more than two decades that any Government is acting to restrict rather than relax our drinking laws.

“But, we can’t do it alone. We all have a role to play in shifting our drinking culture, towards more moderate and responsible alcohol consumption,” Ms Collins says.

She’s right, Parliament can change laws but a culture change requires a change in attitude.

Drunkenness isn’t attractive or funny or clever.

The behaviour it leads to can be and often is dangerous to the drunks and others in their vicinity.

Alcohol has a place as a social lubricant but it must be in moderation, regardless of the age of the drinker.

Age-change a cop-out

August 27, 2012

This week parliament is likely to consider changes to the laws governing the sale of alcohol.

I hope MPs read this before they make up their minds how they will vote:

Post rugby violence ‘sad reality’ – Police:

. . . Central communications shift commander Mark Oliver said it was the “sad reality” of New Zealand culture.

“There’s too much alcohol, people get on the turps on big game nights,” he said. . .

He said young people were often blamed for binge drinking but there were just as many adults. . .

The problem with the drinking culture and alcohol abuse is not confined to young people.

Raising the purchase age to 20 or splitting it so 18 and 19 year-olds can buy alcohol on licensed premises but not at off-licences will not change the culture.

The problem is the attitude not the age.

Any measures which don’t address that will be tinkering with the symptoms not solving the problem.

Changing the age would be a cop-out which would punish the many young people who drink sensibly and ignore the much larger problem of many older people who don’t.

Keep the age 18 but change the culture that licences drinking to excess, treats drunkenness as normal, regards intoxication as amusing and condones the behavioural problems which stem from all of that.

Problem drinking not confined to young

July 10, 2012

When the idea of a split age for the purchase of alcohol was first mooted I thought it was a good idea.

That would allow people to drink in licensed premises when they were 18 but not purchase alcohol to drink elsewhere until they were 20.

The aim is to address the problem of binge drinking and other problems associated with too much alcohol.

But when I thought about it more I realised that splitting the age is treating a symptom not the problem – and the problem isn’t confined to the young.

Teenager Verity Johnson writes:

If we actually want to reduce teenage binge drinking, we need to change what society demands. We need to show that drinking responsibly is the way to go. After all, drinking is going to happen.

Moderating it is the challenge.

National MP Michael Woodhouse has issued a challenge to young people who are advocating for him to vote to leave the purchase age at 18:

Here’s what will definitely get me voting 18/18:

  • if young people actively promote the idea getting trashed is dumb, in the same way that smoking or drink-driving is dumb
  • that student organisations pass remits promoting moderation, and rules expelling people from organisations (after say a three strikes process) for excessive drinking; messages saying alcohol consumption is normal – excessive consumption isn’t
  • messages that the taxpayer is entitled to expect its money given to students is not thrown up against the wall of the Cook.

All of these are very good points but the first doesn’t apply only to young people and the message that excessive consumption isn’t normal needs to be spread far more widely than youth organisations. 

A lot of people who should be old enough to know better also get trashed and organisations of older people condone or even encourage excessive drinking.

It’s absolutely no use telling young people to do as we say if older people aren’t doing it too.

Excessive drinking and the problems it causes aren’t acceptable at any age.

Tinkering with the purchase age or price of alcohol won’t change the culture which is the only way to properly address problem drinking.

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