23 Aug 2012

Alcohol industry role in setting code questioned

1:08 pm on 23 August 2012

The head of preventative and social medicine at Otago University says it would be problematic to give the liquor industry control over alcohol regulations.

The Government's final amendments to its Alcohol Reform Bill have been released, which allow for limits, including on strength, to be set on ready-to-drink (RTD) products.

However the alcohol industry has been given the chance to come up with a harm reduction code first.

Jenny Conner of Otago University told Nine to Noon the alcohol industry is aggressive and exists to make money.

She says it is is not appropriate to give it control over regulation designed to protect health and welfare. "It's our business as a country to set the regulatory framework the way we want to have it."

Other measures in the finalised amendments address parental consent on alcohol supply and clarify the rules on alcohol displays in supermarkets.

Parents will need to give express permission for their children to be supplied with alcohol, and 18- and 19-year-olds will be subject to the same rules on responsible supply of liquor.

Alcohol displays and advertising in supermarkets will not be allowed in prominent areas of stores.

Justice Minister Judith Collins says the changes will improve the bill's ability to reduce alcohol related harm in families and communities.

However, Labour's Lianne Dalziel says communities have called for more to be done to reduce alcohol harm and the Government still seems to be unwilling to listen to the concerns of thousands of people wanting real change to liquor laws.

The bill is set to return to Parliament in the next few weeks.