How a Local Alcohol Policy can reduce harm

Fewer places selling alcohol, less harm

Limiting the number of places that sell alcohol, across the district or in selected areas/suburbs

The more places that sell alcohol in a community, the higher the rate of alcohol-related harms such as violence, assaults, drink driving, child maltreatment, self-reported harm and heavy drinking among adolescents and university students.

More outlets means more competition - outlets then stay open for longer and discount their prices to compete. Low prices enables heavier drinking and more harm.

A high density of liquor outlets can also lower the amenity and good order in a community - this may be because heavy drinkers cause street disturbance, litter, vomit, property damage, etc. 

Preventing new alcohol outlets opening in vulnerable areas

In New Zealand, there are more places that sell alcohol in low income communities. Low income drinkers experience high levels of alcohol-related harm. Research shows that young Māori and Pacific males (i.e. 18-24 years) are more negatively impacted by living in close proximity to places that sell alcohol. Policies that prevent new alcohol outlets opening are urgently needed to reduce the unequal harm experienced by Māori, Pacific and low income populations.

Preventing new alcohol outlets being located near schools, Marae and other sensitive sites

Given alcohol is New Zealand's most harmful drug, we should reduce alcohol access and visibility to vulnerable populations, including children. It is important that new alcohol outlets should not open near schools, Marae, alcohol treatment facilities, churches and playgrounds.

Shorter trading hours, less harm

Off-licence opening and closing hours

Countries such as Scotland and Ireland do not allow off-licences to open until 10am or 10:30am. This protects children from being exposed to alcohol on their journey from home to school. Social service providers in New Zealand have been concerned about the negative impact of early opening hours on persons with alcohol addiction. 

Later closing hours are especially problematic. New Zealand drinkers who purchased alcohol from off-licences after 10pm were found to be twice as likely to be heavy drinkers compared to those who purchased before 10pm. International research, from Germany and Switzerland, found significant reductions in harm to young people following a reduction in off-licence trading hours, when combined with other off-licence restrictions. You can read more here.

On-licence closing hours

There is a wealth of evidence showing that restrictions to on-licence hours reduces alcohol harm. Click here for more information.

Licence conditions, less harm

Conditions can also be placed on alcohol licences to minimise harm. For off-licences, these may include (but are not limited to):

  • Prohibiting the sale of single alcoholic beverages (eg, single mainstream beers and RTDs)
  • Prohibiting the sale of certain types of products - eg light spirits, shots - and/or products sold below a certain cost
  • Prohibiting sales to persons in school uniforms
  • Not displaying RTDs at the principal entrance to the store or within three metres of the front window

To protect children from being exposed to liquor store advertising, the following conditions placed on alcohol outlets near schools are especially important:

  • Signage to be limited to displaying the store name and logo on the existing roof display
  • No bright colours to be used in the external decoration of the premises
  • No specific product or price specials to be displayed externally.

You can read more about off-licence conditions here and on-licence conditions here.

Read more about Local Alcohol Policies

Visit Action Point for more information about Local Alcohol Policies. Click here.