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New Zealand

Government accused of pandering to alcohol industry

Newshub logoNewshub 12/07/2019 Lisette Reymer
a group of people sitting at a table with a cup of beer © Getty.

Mental health experts are accusing the Government of pandering to the alcohol industry.

The National Addiction Centre say the Government's lack of action over alcohol regulation, following recommendations made in a recent mental health inquiry, suggests outside influences are involved.

The addiction alcohol can turn into is something Graeme Watson from Familial Trust witnesses everyday.

"Some of the families we have coming in here, that's going back five or six generations, where there's been alcohol use in the family," he said.

Now with a direct link to depression, alcohol was something the 2018 mental health inquiry urged the Government to take strong action on, recommending, restricting marketing, raising the price of alcohol and raising the drinking age. 

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The Government's response to date is only that further consideration is needed.

"You gotta follow the money and ask who is benefiting from the status quo," Simon Adamson, the National Addiction Centre director, said,

Alcohol harm is estimated to cost the country almost eight billion dollars a year, with an even greater human cost, contributing to a third of our suicides.

"There is a lot of money being made by the alcohol industry and the supermarket industry so we could speculate that there's been some strong lobbying going on," said Adamson.

Health Minister Dr David Clark said he wouldn't dignify such suggestions with a response. But he says the Government hasn't taken the recommendations relating to alcohol off the agenda and work is ongoing. 

Watson concedes regulating the sale and supply of alcohol isn't a silver bullet.

"A person who is addicted to a substance or behaviour will find a way to reach that need regardless of the price," said Watson.

But if a higher price could deter future addicts, mental health workers say, that's a shot worth taking. 

Readers seeking support and information about substance abuse and alcohol addiction

Healthline – Speak to a registered nurse, 24 hour health advice: phone 0800 611 116

Alcohol Drug Helpline: 0800 787 797, text 8681

Māori Helpline – 0800 787 798, text 8681

Pasifika Helpline – 0800 787 799, text 8681

Youth Helpline – 0800 787 984, text 8681

CareNZ – Works with people affected by addiction to alcohol and other drugs

Pact – Supports people to overcome alcohol, drug and gambling issues in Wellington and on the West Coast

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