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There are so many updates since our last e-news. We are particularly thrilled to share news of David Ratu's Health Volunteer of the Year award, as well as the first data release following minimum unit pricing in Scotland.


It is with great pleasure that we announce that David Ratu has won both the Ministry of Health (Individual) Volunteer of the Year Award in the NGO/Community category and the overall Health Volunteer of the Year award.

Those who have the privilege of knowing David will recognise his hard work, persistence and dedication to reducing alcohol-related harm. He goes above and beyond, to work together with harm reduction agencies so that Te Tiriti o Waitangi is embedded in our practice and values, and the voice of Māori is heard in alcohol licensing decisions.

He further contributes his time and energy to building national capacity to reduce harm, particularly among Māori. Currently, he is also working to improve data collection processes so that evidence of harm to Māori can be documented and utilised to target the reduction of alcohol-related inequities.

Ka rawe David! And well done to all of the amazing volunteers who were nominated - the award ceremony at the Grand Hall of Parliament was filled with inspiring individuals and teams.
The Minister of Health, Dr David Clark, presenting David Ratu with his Volunteer Award.


In May, the Government responded to the recommendations made by the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry.

Of the 40 recommendations in the Inquiry's report, the Government has ‘agreed’ or ‘agreed in principle’ to the majority – leaving the recommendations that relate to taking strong preventative action on alcohol harm needing ‘further consideration’.

Alcohol Healthwatch applauds the Government’s commitment to improving mental health and addiction treatment services, with significant investment demonstrated in our country’s first Wellbeing Budget 2019.

We recommend that “further consideration” on alcohol harm reduction must be focused on those measures that have the strongest evidence for reducing inequities in consumption and harm. Tinkering with the existing system will not suffice. Strategies are required that increase alcohol prices, reduce availability and restrict alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

Over 800 New Zealanders die each year from alcohol - we have a duty to implement the most effective measures to save lives.

Read our media release here. An interview with Doug Sellman and his response is available here.


As reported in our last e-news, Māori warden David Ratu (Ngāti Te Ata Waiohua, Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Maniapoto) filed a claim for an urgent hearing with the Waitangi Tribunal on behalf of all Māori suffering disproportionately from the negative impacts arising from the sale and supply of alcohol.

In brief, the claim concerns the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act and how it fails to include reference to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, fails to guarantee that Māori have ‘standing’ within licensing objections, and fails to guarantee Māori representation on bodies that decide whether an alcohol licence is granted. These failings result in Māori being silenced in the licensing process.

Although the claim was successfully registered as urgent by the Waitangi Tribunal, the Crown's response did not support urgency. This mostly centred on David’s claim continuing to make its progress through the Kaupapa Inquiry into Health Services and Outcomes. A rebuttal to the Crown's position was submitted by David’s team, with the result being that the Judge did not proceed with urgency.

This is not all bad news, there has been no loss. Having the claim registered to be considered as "Urgent" was a significant milestone and elevates the importance of alcohol harm to Māori. David's team has noted that the process itself has raised issues that until now have gone unnoticed to those outside of this area. We now await the hearing for David's claim under the Waitangi Tribunal Kaupapa Inquiry, hopefully taking place within the next 12 months.


It is 10 days until the first Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Action Plan 2016-2019 'technically' comes to an end.

To discuss the progress of the FASD Action Plan (hereon 'The Plan'), a hui was held in Auckland, organised by Alcohol Healthwatch and the University of Auckland Centre for Addiction Research.

Representatives from the Cross-Ministry FASD Governance Group and a panel of speakers shared their experiences and joined participants to discuss FASD prevention, responsiveness to Māori, assessment, intervention and research.

It was reinforced by all that FASD is a serious and complex issue requiring a multidisciplinary, systems-based and collaborative approach across and between communities, service providers, whānau and the government.

It was confirmed that the Plan would continue beyond its 3-year duration, which was news well-received.

The Plan is well-regarded. However, expectations surrounding the implementation and progress of the Plan were considered insufficient, leaving many areas unaddressed and requiring urgent action. For many of those living with FASD, progress to-date was considered ‘extremely poor’.  Other actions deemed necessary but unaddressed were:
  • To honour Te Tiriti of Waitangi;
  • To enact evidence-based environmental change that most effectively reduces alcohol harm; and
  • To reduce systemic barriers for those with FASD who have a right to their permanent neuro-disability being effectively supported.
A copy of the full feedback summary form the hui is available here.


In April, the Ministry of Health released the final set of alcohol consumption data from the New Zealand Health Survey 2017/18 of adults aged 15 years and above.

Key results:
  • 25.2% of past-year drinkers were classified as hazardous drinkers (~776,000 New Zealand (NZ) adults). This prevalence has not changed across the three previous comparable surveys.
  • Male past-year drinkers (32.9%) were almost twice as likely to drink hazardously than female past-year drinkers (17%).
  • Among all NZ adults, more than one in five (21.5%) reported consuming 6 or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion in the past month.
  • Among all NZ adults, more than one in ten (11.4%) reported consuming 6 or more alcoholic drinks on one occasion in the past week.
  • There has been no change in the past three years in the prevalence of heavy episodic drinking (6 or more drinks on an occasion) in the past month or week.
Click here for the latest data


Local and state governments are continuing to lead the way in reducing the harm from alcohol advertising.
  • The Queensland State Government recently announced their policy prohibiting alcohol advertising on government-owned or controlled property. The aim was to limit the exposure of children and adults to the promotion of alcohol.
  • In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed an executive order prohibiting alcohol advertisements on New York City property. The order cites harm caused by alcohol, risks of increased exposure to alcohol advertising, and the city’s interest in protecting the health and safety of New Yorkers. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority stopped alcohol advertising on New York City buses, subway cars and stations in 2017.
  • This week Southwark Council (South London) enacted a ban on all alcohol advertising on Council-owned billboards.
Closer to home, Auckland Transport announced last October that all of their infrastructure, facilities and services were free from alcohol advertising. 

Policies restricting alcohol advertising are considered a ‘best buy’ for reducing the harm from alcohol. At a national level many countries, including New Zealand, have voluntary codes regulating advertising content. These is strong evidence that self-regulatory approaches are ineffective in reducing harmful exposure, offering little protection in terms of the placement and quantity of alcohol advertising that children are exposed to.

It is heartening to see local governments around the world taking leadership to protect their communities. Now is the time for councils in New Zealand to do the same, particularly in light of the struggles they have faced upholding community wishes in the local alcohol policy process.


On the 1st of May, 2018, Scotland implemented a 50p minimum unit price (MUP) for a standard drink of alcohol. In New Zealand terms, that equates to approx $1.20 per standard drink (UK std drink is 8g, NZ is 10g).

On the 10th of October, 2018, Ireland passed Minimum Unit Pricing legislation, requiring a minimum price of approx NZ$1.70 per standard drink - we await an implementation date so that lives can be saved.

Wales have also passed Minimum Unit Pricing, with the 50p (NZ$1.20) threshold to kick in early 2020.

The Northern Territory in Australia implemented a ~NZ$1.36 MUP on the 1st of October, 2018.

Hot off the press: The Monitoring and Evaluating Scotland's Alcohol Strategy (MESAS) monitoring report was released yesterday showing that the amount of pure alcohol sold in Scotland in the 2018 calendar year (that is, 4 months pre-MUP and 8-months post MUP) had reduced, whilst it had increased in England and Wales. Longer-term analysis is required to understand the full impact of MUP. However, the graphs below show that Scotland is closing the gap with England and Wales, and that the early indication is that MUP has not impacted on-licence sales (as expected).

For an excellent thread, including interactive graphs, on the initial sales data following MUP in Scotland, we recommend you follow Colin Angus on Twitter @VictimofMaths.


Norway’s largest pension fund has announced it is divesting from companies that derive more than 5% of their revenues from alcohol or gambling. This move was to ensure that investments contributed to positive and sustainable social development.

This strong position will result in approximately 90 companies being excluded, including Budweiser maker AB InBev, champagne group LVMH, brewers Heineken and Greene King, and spirits maker Diageo.

Well done. New Zealand investment funds (e.g. superannuation) should look to follow suit.


A 10-year reflection on alcohol law reform since the Law Commission’s review in 2010

Wharewaka Function Centre - Matiu Room, Wellington
9am to 12:30pm, Tuesday 13 August, 2019

Following an opening address by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, presentations will be given by Professors Jennie Connor, Doug Sellman, Sally Casswell and Dr Nicki Jackson. 

This event is limited to 50 places. Free registration includes morning tea and lunch. All attendees must register by sending their name, organisation, and preferred name for badge to

Koha/donations to Alcohol Action NZ - BNZ 02-0800-0866785-025.

For more information, click here or read the flyer.


Most recent publications:


Hot off the press is a wealth of high-quality alcohol research. Email Alcohol Healthwatch if you do not have access to any of the full-text versions below.

We encourage you to read the University of Otago study into the cost of alcohol to workplace productivity (hidden costs of employee drinking), below.


The hidden costs of employee drinking: A quantitative analysis
Did New Zealand’s new alcohol legislation achieve its object of facilitating public input? Qualitative study of Māori communities
Do New Zealand sexual minorities engage in more hazardous drinking than non‐sexual minorities?
The Homicide Report
The contribution of avoidable mortality to the life expectancy gap in Māori and Pacific populations
Quantifying Children’s Non-Supermarket Exposure to Alcohol Marketing via Product Packaging Using Wearable Cameras


Pricing / tax, alcohol policy
Comparing alcohol taxation throughout the European Union
The Relationship Between the U.S. State Alcohol Policy Environment and Individuals’ Experience of Secondhand Effects: Alcohol Harms Due to Others’ Drinking
Dose–Response Relationship of Alcohol and Injury Cause: Effects of Country‐Level Drinking Pattern and Alcohol Policy
Assessing Campus Alcohol Policies: Measuring Accessibility, Clarity, and Effectiveness

Consumption and pre-drinking
Global alcohol exposure between 1990 and 2017 and forecasts until 2030: a modelling study
Has the Relationship Between Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol-Related Risky Behaviour Changed in Australia?
The Role of Sex and Age on Pre-drinking: An Exploratory International Comparison of 27 Countries
The impact of an alcohol consumption intervention in community sports clubs on safety and participation: an RCT

The relationship between parental attitudes and children's alcohol use: a systematic review and meta‐analysis

Brief interventions in primary care
The Cochrane 2018 Review on Brief Interventions in Primary Care for Hazardous and Harmful Alcohol Consumption: A Distillation for Clinicians and Policy Makers
Socioeconomic inequalities in the delivery of brief interventions for smoking and excessive drinking

Mental health
Associations of child and adolescent anxiety with later alcohol use and disorders: a systematic review and meta‐analysis of prospective cohort studies

The association between alcohol access and alcohol‐attributable emergency department visits in Ontario, Canada

Advertising and sponsorship
How alcohol advertising and sponsorship works: Effects through indirect measures
Compliance with regulations and codes of conduct at social media accounts of Swedish alcohol brands
Alcohol industry advertising partnerships with AFL and NRL teams 2019
Ease of Access to Alcohol Advertising on Social Networking Sites Makes Influence of Posts and User Comments More Concerning
Alcohol and pregnancy, FASD
Prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder among special subpopulations: a systematic review and meta‐analysis
Alcohol Use in Pregnancy and Miscarriage: A Systematic Review and Meta‐Analysis
Prenatal Alcohol Screening During Pregnancy by Midwives and Nurses
Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders: A Review of the Neurobehavioral Deficits Associated With Prenatal Alcohol Exposure
Are Low‐to‐Moderate Average Alcohol Consumption and Isolated Episodes of Binge Drinking in Early Pregnancy Associated with Facial Features Related to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome in 5‐Year‐Old Children?
Changes in Drinking Patterns, and Attitudes Toward and Knowledge About Alcohol Consumption During Pregnancy in a Population of Pregnant Danish Women
The Importance of Intimate Partner Violence in Within‐Relationship and Between‐Person Risk for Alcohol‐Exposed Pregnancy

Other harms, including family violence
Alcohol-related harm to others in England
Income trajectories prior to alcohol‐attributable death in Finland and Sweden
Alcohol use in family, domestic and other violence: Findings from a cross‐sectional survey of the Australian population
Association of binge drinking in adolescence and early adulthood with high blood pressure

Public Health Surveillance Studies of Alcohol Industry Market and Political Strategies: A Systematic Review
Unite for a Framework Convention for Alcohol Control
Big” Food, Tobacco, and Alcohol: Reducing Industry Influence on Noncommunicable Disease Prevention Laws and Policies


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