Dr Brett Maclennan
New Zealand's new alcohol legislation will be put under
close scrutiny in a four-year research project by University of
Last month, researchers were awarded $1.9 million by the
Health Research Council (HRC) of New Zealand to study the
effects of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act (2012), which
came into full effect last December.
The project, which will involve collecting data from 10 local
government areas across New Zealand, will look at a wide
range of areas, from public involvement to alcohol
Lead investigator Dr Brett Maclennan, a research fellow in
the university's Department of Preventive and Social
Medicine, said the new Act intended to reduce harm from
excessive alcohol consumption.
However it omitted almost all of the evidence-based
strategies recommended by the Law Commission in its 2010
review, including a recommended increase in the excise tax on
alcohol, a tighter regulatory framework around alcohol
advertising and sponsorship, and an increase in the purchase
''The recommendations of the Law Commission would have given
the Act more teeth, but many of these were rejected,'' Dr
''Our study will assess the impact of that as time goes on.''
Another message that came through clearly in the review was
that the public and local governments wanted more say in
where and when alcohol was sold.
''Local government were limited in what they could do ...
under the previous legislation.
''The new Act in principle gives them additional powers, but
we're already seeing appeals against the content of local
alcohol policies by the grocery and hospitality sectors,'' Dr
''As part of our research, we hope to speak to staff involved
in the development of those local alcohol policies and the
challenges they face,'' he said.
''Data on alcohol-related admissions to hospitals shows that
availability of alcohol is a driver of hazardous drinking,
leading to a high cost for DHBs.
''We are going to look at availability and price, to study
the effect of that over time as well,'' he said.
Prof Kypros Kypri, of Melbourne, a co-investigator on the
project, said public desire for better alcohol policy was
strong and there was disappointment the Law Commission
recommend-ations were watered down.
''It is important to know whether the new law is effective
and we are delighted to see independent peer-reviewed
research funded in this area,'' Prof Kypri said.