23 Nov 2008

Student drinking survey sparks call for higher alcohol tax

8:56 am on 23 November 2008

A senior health professional is calling for the Government to raise the tax on alcohol, following a survey indicating a third of students questioned had blacked out after drinking in the previous month.

The Injury Prevention Research Unit released the results of an internet-based survey on students' drinking habits, which canvassed more 2,500 students from five of the country's eight universities.

Of those who responded, 80% reported drinking alcohol in the four weeks prior to the survey, 33% reported blacking out after drinking and 10% reported having driven with someone who was drunk.

Dr Jennie Connor, lecturer in epidemiology at Otago University and research associate with the Injury Prevention Research Unit, says it is a difficult political decision to do something about controlling alcohol.

However she says international evidence shows that increasing taxes and raising the purchase age reduces the level of alcohol-related harm.

New Zealand Union of Students Associations co-president Liz Hawes says students' drinking habits are no different to those of other young people.

Ms Hawes says her priority would be to eliminate alco-pops, which she describes as particularly evil.

Alcohol Advisory Council chief executive Gerard Vaughan says the survey's results show there should be fewer alcohol stores close to campuses.

Mr Vaughan says liquor outlets grouped close to universities, late opening hours and the type of stores all contribute to student drinking.