18 Mar 2010

Growing alcohol problems in Pacific linked to foreign interests

1:55 pm on 18 March 2010

An Australia study has found that alcohol abuse is on the rise in the Pacific, and that Australian and New Zealand beer is a large part of the problem.

The study, commissioned by the Australian National Council on Drugs, found peaks in domestic violence in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu could be linked to alcohol abuse.

The Council's executive officer, Gino Vumbaca, says Australian and New Zealand alcohol industries had significant commercial interest in the region.

He says addressing these alcohol problems imposes an obligation on them and the governments of both the metropolitan countries.

The Council's chair, John Herron, says the rise of alcohol-related problems and the potential for it to escalate further in the Pacific is quite ominous, if people don't act now.

He says alcohol and other drugs are significantly contributing to risky behaviour, particularly risky sexual behaviour amongst young people in ther region.

The report also showed that cannabis use had increased in Tonga and the Cook Islands, while marijuana crops were well established in Fiji, where police reported schoolchildren had been used for trafficking.