Alcohol changes come into effect

Tuesday December 17, 2013

New laws on the supply and promotion of alcohol come into effect tomorrow (Wednesday, December 18, 2013) when the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 comes into full effect.

Dr Alistair Humphrey, Canterbury Medical Officer of Health, says the changes will help reduce harm caused by alcohol in New Zealand

"Heavy alcohol use in adolescents has far more damaging effects than on adults because their developing brains don't have the same physical protection around their brain cells," Dr Humphrey says. 

"Supplying underage people with alcohol does not make you a cool dad, mum, or older brother.  Instead it puts people at risk and, far too often, leads to hospitalisation or run-ins with the law."

One of the biggest changes to the law is adults can now be fined up to $2000 if they supply alcohol to children without parental consent.

"As adults it's our job to keep children safe and act as good role models, and I am pleased the new law takes supplying those underage seriously."

The Act gives Medical Officers of Health greater scope to oppose licence applications.

The South Island Medical Officers of Health have agreed to oppose all applications to supply alcohol for consumption at events focussed on children, such as school fairs and prize-givings.

The Medical Officer of Health is not the decision maker as to whether a licence is issued.

"I am in no doubt that the sale of alcohol for consumption at events focussed on children is inappropriate. Drinking alcohol at these events sends the wrong message," Dr Humphrey says.

"Over the last two decades alcohol has been made more and more available in New Zealand and the law now provides us the opportunity to swing the pendulum back."

In other changes coming into effect, from tomorrow supermarkets will be required to start removing alcohol from the main thoroughfares of their stores so customers are not required to walk through to get around the store. Supermarkets are only required to do this when their alcohol licenses come up for renew meaning they won't be fully in place until sometime after 18 December 2016

Additionally, the promotion of alcohol selling at below 25 percent of its usual selling price is now unlawful.

"This means that the giant, front-of-store posters promoting $8 bottles of wine and multipacks of beer are set to become a thing of the past."

For further information contact Amy Milne 027 502 7523‚Äč

Page last reviewed: 20 December 2013