Alcohol Beverages Australia(ABA) today welcomed Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) research on Australian drinking which highlights well known downward trends in problem drinking – but has hit out at claims the declines are linked to restrictions to alcohol pricing, availability and trading hours.
ABA Executive Director Fergus Taylor said the long term decreases we’re seeing in problem drinking come from targeting at risk groups and teaching people to make better decisions, and Australians deciding to drink in more responsible ways. Lockouts and reduced trading hours have only been around for two years and only in a couple of states.
The AIHW research highlights nothing new. The downward trends in underage drinking and risky drinking are welcome, but have been well documented over the past fifteen years.
Basic common sense will tell you that raising drink prices, reducing opening hours and decreasing availability will not stop problem drinkers, they’ll just find a way around it.
These broad based measures punish responsible drinkers instead of those that are causing the problems. Raising drink prices just makes life more difficult for those lower or fixed incomes, like pensioners, who drink responsibly without harming themselves or anyone else.
The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons says that alcohol has never been cheaper, more heavily promoted and more available. Yet underage drinking and risky drinking trends continue downward.
The alcohol beverages industry has poured millions of dollars into responsible drinking and cultural education via more low alcohol products, responsible consumption marketing, improved and ongoing RSA training and the award winning DrinkWise education campaigns that work to change the ways groups experiencing harms think about alcohol.
Australians respond much better to being shown what to do than being told what to do. The more resources governments can direct into educational initiatives the more momentum we’ll see in the downward trends for problem drinking.
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