18 November 2022

The just released New Zealand Health Survey shows the complex relationship New Zealanders enjoy with beer, wine and spirits, the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC) said today.

The survey for 2021/22 shows the lowest rate of hazardous drinking since the research began – sitting at 18.8% of the adult population. Yet it also shows that just about the same number of us had a drink confirming we’re probably drinking less overall, said NZABC executive director Virginia Nicholls

At the same time we are also seeing a reduction in hazardous drinking by 18 – 24 years old and 25 – 34 years old. A decline of 6.2% and 4.7% over the last five years respectively.

However Maori have a hazardous drinking rate of 33.2% which hasn’t moved in the past two years and is much higher than the whole-of-population hazardous drinking rate.

“Although we’re pleased to note the progress in some areas there is still work to be done. And this work needs to be targeted at the most impacted parts of New Zealand rather than having population-wide controls put on us,” Mrs Nicholls said.

Just released research published in the Journal of Economic Affairs shows how population wide controls or laws meant to reduce hazardous drinking don’t work and can actually increase levels of bad drinking.

Chris Snowdon’s[i] study shows that use of controls commonly pushed by the WHO and some public health commentators here in New Zealand can actually lead to an increase in deaths attributable to drinking.

The study investigated the impact of existing whole of population controls and matched this against mortality data in 64 countries across the world including Australia and New Zealand.

“There’s no doubt that the majority of us drink socially and responsibly but some of us do not. The causes of bad drinking are complex and although robust and responsive laws are needed to help create an appropriate drinking environment there is a need to ensure they are as targeted as possible and supported by other non-regulatory programmes so they are effective where they are needed”.


[i] Snowden, Christopher. (October 2022). Testing the total consumption model of alcohol. Economic Affairs;
42 (3). https://doi.org/10.1111/ecaf.12545