8 Mar 2009

Alcohol group considers stricter drinking guidelines

2:58 pm on 8 March 2009

The Alcohol Advisory Council is considering whether to revise guidelines to New Zealanders in the wake of stricter alcohol intake limits suggested by an Australian authority.

Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council has issued stricter guidelines that include advising people aged under 18 not to drink.

The council updated its 2001 guidelines on Friday, recommending the limit on daily alcohol intake should be two standard drinks for both sexes. Previous advice was that men have no more than four standard drinks a day, and that women have less.

The new guidelines also recommend men and women should limit themselves to four standard drinks in any single drinking session, to avoid the skyrocketing risk of drunkenness-related injury beyond that point.

The guidelines advise women who are pregnant, planning a pregnancy or breast feeding, and anyone aged under 18, not to drink.

New Zealand's Alcohol Advisory Council says this country has a drinking culture similar to Australia's, with many young people bingeing, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Chief executive Gerard Vaughan says it plans to consult parents of young people to gauge whether new guidelines should be adopted in this country. "It's quite easy to just draw up a guideline and no-one can follow it. That's why it's important to have the discussion and debate, to see what sort of advice New Zealanders would actually take on board."

ALAC says it will monitor the effects the Australian guidelines have on its drinking culture.