Thursday 30 September 2021 

The Dominion Post – Letter to the Editor from Bridget MacDonald, Executive Director, NZABC

As a nation, we’re drinking 25% less than in the ’80s. Harmful drinking is declining, particularly amongst young people. We drink less than the UK and below the average of OCED countries, so it’s wrong to imply we are ‘British’-style boozers. 

Northland DHB CEO Nick Chamberlain is also wrong to suggest that increasing drink prices will magically stop harmful drinking. Research clearly shows putting the price up does not markedly change a heavy drinker’s behaviour – they just continue to buy… and drink. Sure, total consumption drops – but not harmful consumption – because it’s the moderate drinker that cuts back, not the heavy drinker.

We know from the six o’clock swill that early closing times don’t promote responsibility – they certainly wouldn’t revive our hospitality industry post-lockdown.

Evidence shows lockdowns don’t make us drink more – Health Promotion Agency research shows 36% of Kiwis didn’t drink at all over lockdown last year, 34% drank less, and 47% consumed about the same. So to insinuate that online sales are fueling mayhem just doesn’t stack up – people buy online for convenience – but most of us already know that.

To meaningfully tackle alcohol-related harm, let’s avoid lazy population-based policy. A purposeful approach includes empowering people by giving them information and tools for better decision making around alcohol and investing in targeted support initiatives for those who need it. 


Need help?

Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, free txt 8681, or visit

Need more information? Here are some handy tips for better drinking decisions

  • Check out and for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions.
  •  A good rule of thumb is ‘Go no, low or slow’. It’s okay to choose no- or low-alcohol drinks. If you choose to drink, pace yourself and enjoy your drink slowly.
  •  Drink plenty of water, especially in between drinks stay hydrated, and eat if you are drinking.
  •  Support others to stay safe and social. Check in with family and friends to help them stay connected.
  • Ministry of Health/HPA Guidelines: Low-risk alcohol drinking advice to reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

         – Two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week,

         – Three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week,

AND have at least two alcohol-free days every week.