Most of us agree that targeted education and support programmes will create a better understanding of responsible drinking, a recently released survey shows.

The annual survey [i] by the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council aims to understand New Zealanders views on how alcohol is perceived across a number of issues.

One question asked what respondents thought of alcohol education programmes in schools and 76% agreed that this will reduce alcohol-related harm.

“All the research tells us that the earlier you can start talking to teenagers about drinking the less likely it is they will become hazardous drinkers – or start drinking at all, which is why education programmes are so important”, says NZABC executive director Virginia Nicholls.

Since 2019 the Tomorrow Project – a social change charity governed by Spirits NZ, NZ Winegrowers and the Brewers Association – has funded the Life Education Trust to deliver ‘Smashed’, a theatre-in-education programme that included an interactive workshop for 12- and 13-year-olds.

The programme also provided practical information on what a standard drink was and counting drinks, and talked about safe drinking, binge drinking, peer pressure, better decision making, and availability of zero- and low-alcohol drinks.

Independent research [ii] showed the programme was supporting positive changes to youth drinking culture.

“The evidence suggested pupils who attended the programme gained an increased awareness of how different forms of alcohol-related harm might impact them and their peers”, Mrs Nicholls said.

“It is encouraging to see that in NZ in 2022 fewer young people drink and drink less hazardously [iii], with 57.1% of 15 to 17 year olds having had alcohol in the past year which is 17.4% less (74.5%) than 2006/07”, Mrs Nicholls said.

According to the NZ Youth 2000 survey [iv] an increasing proportion of secondary school students are choosing not to drink.  The proportion of secondary students who have never drunk alcohol increased markedly from 26% in 2007, to 45% in 2019.

Over time, young people are drinking less often.  In the total student population, young people who used alcohol in the past month fell between 2007 and 2019 from 49% in 2007 to 34% in 2019.


[i]  Conducted by Curia Market Research, December 2022, across 1250 people across New Zealand

[ii]  Smashed “showed us ways to deal with peer pressure,” NZCER, September 2022

[iii]  NZ Health survey 2021/22, Annual Update of Key Results 2021/22: New Zealand Health Survey | Ministry of Health NZ, accessed 2 Dec 22

[iv]  Youth19 was conducted in 2019 in the Auckland, Northland & Waikato regions by researchers from The University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Otago and Auckland University of Technology.  Youth19 is a scientifically and ethically rigorous survey, funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Youth19 – A Youth2000 Survey