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NZ doctors want ban on booze to teens

NZ doctors want ban on booze to teens
Photo: NZ doctors want ban on booze to teens
New Zealand's doctors say the government must take a tougher stance on alcohol sales, taxation, sponsorship and drink driving to curb alcohol harm.

AUCKLAND, AAP - New Zealand doctors want all teens banned from buying alcoholic drinks at the pub and pregnant women routinely warned not to let any booze pass their lips.

These are the key recommendations in a raft of new measures being touted by the New Zealand Medical Association to slash the country's "worrying" alcohol harm statistics.

Others include increasing alcohol excise tax, expanding alcohol addiction programmes and banning alcohol brands from sponsoring any sporting or cultural event.

The association's incoming chairman, Auckland GP Dr Stephen Child, says well over half a million New Zealanders consume alcohol in a hazardous way.
"Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity," he said.

"It is a toxin, an intoxicant and an addictive psychotropic drug."

Doctors see the damaging effects of alcohol overuse and abuse every day, Dr Child says, warning it's time for the government to take a hard line on the problem.

"As doctors, we can only do so much," he said.

Figures show over one in three children aged 12 to 16 binge drink, and more than 40 per cent of young men aged 18 to 24 have "hazardous" drinking patterns.

Alcohol has been linked to heart and liver disease, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, depression, cancer, crime, car crashes and serious unintentional injuries.

The briefing document, released on Tuesday, outlines 10 recommendations which the country's doctors believe will tackle the problem at its root.

They are all government-led, requiring either new laws, policies or funding to make them happen.

The doctors called for improved health system screening of patients thought to have a drinking problem and more comprehensive treatment services.

The government should also support heavy drinkers with services similar to Quitline for smoking.

They called for the minimum age for alcohol purchasing in bars and pubs to be lifted from 18 to 20, in line with bottle shop purchasing restrictions.

It also recommends that women be advised against drinking any alcohol during pregnancy and while trying to conceive so as not to expose the baby to any alcohol-related harm.

The association hopes its paper, Reducing Alcohol-related Harm, is as well received as last year's briefing on obesity.


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