A sobering thought: Harmful alcohol use in 2006/07 cost New Zealand an estimated $5.296 billion1 . The amount spent on alcohol per week per household is $19.002. This is more than the amount spent per household on fruit and vegetables.
It is vitally important that we recognise the evidence that much alcohol‐related harm is preventable. The level of average alcohol consumption in a population is closely linked to the level of alcohol related harm. Thus, preventive measures that reduce population consumption as a whole are a fundamental part of any strategy to reduce alcohol‐related harm.Problems with alcohol are widely spread through the population, and do not just concern a small minority. Every citizen is affected by alcohol whether they drink or not. In addition to the negative impact of alcohol on individuals, it is also having a sizeable impact on families, communities and the social environment. A substantial proportion of alcohol problems and the costs associated with these are not just attributable to a minority of alcohol users who drink heavily, but also to those who drink moderately. Although moderate drinkers have fewer problems than heavy drinkers, there are so many more of them in the population that they contribute substantially to the harm from alcohol. Thus, alcohol use and alcohol misuse are closely related.Around 81 per cent of people aged 12 to 65 years consume alcohol, and this is figure is stable for persons aged 18 and over. Males, and non Maori are more likely to be drinkers than females and Maori persons (Ministry of Health 2007). However amongst those Maori persons who have consumed alcohol, they are more likely to have consumed larger amounts of alcohol and to meet the criteria for substance abuse alcohol dependence (Ministry of Health 2006). For female drinkers the pattern is changing with more young women adopting typical male drinking patters (Habgood et al, 2001).Young people aged 12 to 24 years make up 19 per cent of New Zealand’s population. Over 50 per cent report themselves as non drinkers, which means 50 per cent do consume alcohol. Among all age groups who drink young persons are more likely to report themselves as drinking large amounts of alcohol during a single occasion. This pattern of young drinkers is correlated by the experience of adolescents and young adults in other countries (Babor et al. 2003). Student drinking is substantial with 34% reporting an episode of binge drinking in the past four weeks.Under section 10 of the Local Government Act 2002, the New Plymouth District Council has a responsibility to promote the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of the New Plymouth District, now and in the future. One way the Council can contribute to promoting community well being is by promoting safer alcohol‐related environments, and reducing the harms associated with the misuse of alcohol. In pursuant of this objective, and in parallel with requests from the Police and Public Health Unit at the Taranaki District Health Board (TDHB), the Council resolved on 3 April 2007 to undertake the development of a District Alcohol Strategy.The New Plymouth District Alcohol Strategy (the strategy) provides New Plymouth District Council and other stakeholders with a shared vision to address alcohol concerns for New Plymouth, and describes common goals and objectives to realise this vision. The strategy provides a framework to guide and coordinate the ongoing collaboration of alcohol focused work across the district.The coordinating partnership recognises that developing a local alcohol strategy has a number ofbenefits:
The Council in its role as the District Licencing Agency (DLA) already has some policies and rules relating to the management of liquor use in the community, and the Police and health agency fulfil a number of statutory enforcement and public health responsibilities to minimise alcohol related harm. However, developing and implementing a local alcohol strategy is an effective means of raising the Council and community profile of local alcohol issues as it encourages all responsible agencies and persons to take a strategic and proactive approach to develop effective responses to address local alcohol issues through a range of means. This alcohol strategy demonstrates the partners agencies fulfilment of its legal obligations, and clearly defines their responsibilities to reduce the burden of alcohol related harms in the community. This strategy describes a vision for the place of alcohol within New Plymouth, and outlines key aims and objectives that the Council and key stakeholders will achieve to support this vision. The strategy also includes a discussion of the evidence relating to the burden of alcohol‐related harm experienced by residents within the district, and the appropriate responses to support a reduction of this burden.The development of the strategy was informed by local and national evidence, and incorporates information from Police, health and social services agencies. All local data was supplied by the working group. In addition, targeted consultation was undertaken with community representatives, including residents, the business and hospitality sector, and key community and regulatory agencies.This consultation examined perspectives of alcohol related harms, as well as priorities for action to reduce harm and enhance safer alcohol‐related environments. This information has been used to inform the priorities identified in the action plan incorporated into this strategy. The supporting evidence and data can be found in the supporting evidence found at the back of the document.The following sets out the strategy to minimise alcohol harm in our community and an action plan to achieve the strategy.Return to top
The original brief for the strategy was developed by a working group of Council and its key partners the TDHB, New Plymouth Safer Community Council, Police, Ministry of Social Development, Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) and New Plymouth injury Safe (NPiS). The scope of the strategy includes alcohol use in public (e.g., where a liquor licence is required) and private spaces (e.g., nonlicenced environments). The action plan accompanying the strategy includes a range of new and established initiatives, and it is anticipated that other actions will be added over time. Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the strategy as it is implemented will assist in its development and will document progress towards key goals over time.The alcohol strategy is informed by a ‘whole of community’ approach. The approach detailed in this strategy recognises that the consumption of alcohol occurs at a wide range of environments and places throughout the district, and emphasises the importance of promoting the safe and responsible consumption of alcohol in all settings. Working together, the Council and its partners can achieve better and more sustainable outcomes to reduce alcohol related harms, and to promote safer alcohol‐related environments for the community.This strategy will be implemented over the period 2009‐2014, and regular monitoring will occur to assess progress towards achieving the key aims, objectives and actions identified in the strategy.
The vision for the strategy is to provide:“A safe, healthy, vibrant community and quality living environment through the responsible use of alcohol and by minimising alcohol related harm in New Plymouth District”.
This strategy aims to:
The objectives of the strategy are:
A number of principles underpin this strategy. They are:Leadership: New Plymouth District Council, Taranaki Health Board, Government (ACC and MSD) and Police have legitimate and important roles to play in leading efforts to reduce alcohol related harms. The strategy identifies areas where the Council will be a leader, and other areas where the Council will be a supporting partner and other agencies can take a leadership role.Partnership: working in partnership with other stakeholders to reduce alcohol related harms ensures collaboration and encourages the effective and efficient use of resources.Transparency: all alcohol‐related decisions will be consistent with the matters outlined in this Strategy, and the Council will endeavour to promote a balance between the expectations of the community, licensees, and other key stakeholders.Community involvement: The views of the community will be considered when planning to minimise alcohol related harm and promote safer alcohol use in New Plymouth District. This strategy is intended to support inter‐sectoral and multi‐level action to reduce alcohol related harms across New Plymouth district, in a variety of settings and across a range of population groups.Promoting the safe and responsible use of alcohol: alcohol is a part of New Zealand society, and is a legal, regulated and a widely available product. Alongside the Council, leadership and modelling of a culture of moderation, enhancing and monitoring compliance with the legislation relating to the sale and supply of alcohol is important to promote safe and responsible use.Harm minimisation: minimising alcohol related harm to vulnerable individuals, and population groups is an important outcome of this Strategy. New Plymouth District Council and its partners recognise that some groups in the community suffer more adverse effects from alcohol misuse and need increased protection from alcohol related harms.Evidence based interventions: New Plymouth District Council and its partner agencies will support proven and promising interventions (informed by evidence and best practice) to reduce alcohol related harms and promote safer alcohol‐related environments where alcohol is used.These interventions will be evaluated and monitored to assess effectiveness.Return to top
Alcohol misuse places a big cost on our community in terms of time, services and harm. The 2004 Health Behaviours Survey on Alcohol Use found that 81 per cent of New Zealanders between 12 to 65 years had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months (Ministry of Health, 2007). Fifty two per cent of adults are binge drinkers and 33 per cent of our young drinkers consumed five or more glasses on their last drinking occasion. In 2005/6 in New Zealand the cost of alcohol misuse is reported to be an estimated $5.296million and was responsible for the deaths of 1,004 people in 2000 (Geoffrey Palmer Speech to Nelson Police Force, 24 April 2009).Community safety and crime costs created by alcohol costs $240 million per annum, and overseas studies show that between 50 and 70 per cent of weekend crime is attributable to alcohol misuse, and 70 per cent of weekend emergency hospital admissions are alcohol related (Connor et al, The burden of death disease and disability due to alcohol in NZ). For the Police, on any given day, approximately one third of people have consumed alcohol prior to their arrest. The arrests can include a wide range of offences including 26 breaches per day of the Council’s liquor bans. Sales of alcohol to minors is of key concern at a national level and in 2007/08 Police issued 3,145 liquor infringement notices to youths under the age of 18 years for purchase of alcohol.Alcohol has a huge impact to our overall personal safety, in 2007 19 per cent of the 110 drownings were attributed to alcohol (Water Safety NZ) and falls are twelve more times likely to occur when alcohol is involved (Kool et al). Alcohol is a major risk to our safety on roads. It contributes to 28 per cent of fatal road crashes and 14 per cent of injury crashes. In 2007/08 there were 35,000 recorded drink driving offences. The road safety cost of alcohol to the New Zealand economy is approximately $425 million.
The misuse of alcohol has had a long association with offending and victimisation. Nationally, approximately 70 per cent of Police work is linked to alcohol, including alcohol‐fuelled disorder, assaults, criminal damage, family violence, and drink driving.3 4 Across New Zealand, Police estimate they deal with 258 offenders per day who have been affected by alcohol.5
Alcohol related offencesWhen a person is arrested, Police gather information on whether the person has been drinking, the arresting officer’s assessment of the level of intoxication, and the venue where the arrestee identifies that they were last drinking 6. This information, referred to as Alco‐link information, provides an indication of the amount of crime that has identifiable alcohol involvement, as well as the type of crime with alcohol involvement. It also identifies the location of at‐risk drinking.During the 2007 year, there were 4,605 arrests and apprehensions in the New Plymouth area and of these, 423 of those arrested consumed alcohol prior to being arrested.7 Most alcohol related arrests were for exceeding the legal breath‐alcohol level, and drink driving. Other frequent offences were for breaches of the liquor ban, and for disorderly behaviour. In 2007, 235 people in New Plymouth were arrested for drink driving, 155 people were arrested for liquor ban breaches and 116 were arrested for disorderly behaviour offences8. Liquor infringement notices are issued to minors drinking in public places, and approximately 178 infringement notices were issued in 2007 to minors in New Plymouth. 9The majority of those arrested who have consumed alcohol before their arrest are male.10 Mostalcohol‐related arrests occur between 11pm and 3am, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday11. This reflects high levels of alcohol consumption over the weekends, from Friday evenings onwards.
Place of last drinkOf those persons arrested who had consumed alcohol, Police data indicates that most people had been drinking alcohol at home or a private residence (40 per cent) 12. A further one in five people had been drinking in a licenced premise (20 per cent), or a public place (18 per cent) prior to an arrest 13.
Levels of intoxicationAt the time of arrest, nearly half of those persons were considered by the Police to be moderately intoxicated (49 per cent)14. Nearly one‐quarter were considered to be slightly intoxicated (24 per cent), and 10 per cent were assessed as extremely intoxicated at the time of their arrest.
Controlled purchase operations Controlled purchase operations (CPOs) are designed to monitor and enforce the provisions relating to the sale of liquor to minors15. Under the supervision of Police and supported by the District Licencing Agency and others, a young person, aged under 18, is sent into a licenced premise and attempts to purchase alcohol. CPOs often target high‐risk premises but any premise can be visited.CPOs undertaken in 2007 indicated that most licenced premises will refuse service to young people who cannot provide appropriate proof of age verification. Compliance with conditions relating to sale to minors increased from 55 per cent in 2006 to 92 per cent in 2007. Return to top
The link between risky drinking and intoxication and social and health harms is well established.16 For example alcohol abuse and misuse has a significant role in relationship break‐ups, domestic violence and neglect or abuse of children 17.
Hazardous drinking is an established pattern of drinking that carries a high risk of future damage to physical or mental health. Hazardous drinking can also have a detrimental effect on family life, wellbeing and community welfare. It is estimated there are over 17,000 people who drink to hazardous levels in the district, representing more than 18 per cent of adults (aged 18+) in the community18. When compared to the rest of New Zealand, there is a slightly higher prevalence of hazardous drinking in Taranaki than in other locations, however this difference is not significant. Males in Taranaki report notably higher rates of hazardous drinking than females, which is consistent with patterns across New Zealand19. Nationally, Maori report significantly higher rates of hazardous drinking than non‐Maori, but there is no significant difference between the hazardous drinking patterns of Maori and non‐Maori in Taranaki (this could be attributed to the small sample sizes in Taranaki.
Hospitalisation following the misuse of alcoholIn 2006/07, 207 people were discharged from hospital following mental or physical harms from the misuse of alcohol20. Adults aged 30‐44 years are at increased risk for hospitalisation following high risk alcohol consumption than other age groups. Since 2000, the number of people being hospitalised following harm from alcohol has been stable, at approximately 205 people per year.However in 2005, 7,253 persons attended emergency departments for care of an injury, and in an average year 30 persons die as a result of injury, a further 1,364 are admitted to hospital following an injury, although it is difficult to accurately state how many of these numbers may have been influenced by the consumption of alcohol21.In 2006/07, 23 people were discharged from hospital in Taranaki as a result of the toxic effects of the misuse of alcohol22.
InjuriesNationally and internationally, alcohol is a significant contributor to many injuries, particularly assaults, traffic injuries and falls.23 Injury is responsible for half of all alcohol‐related deaths in New Zealand. 24 Whilst the exact contribution of alcohol to the burden of injury related harms for New Plymouth residents is difficult to ascertain, using national data, it is possible to guestimate that avoiding the use of alcohol could reduce the number of unintentional falls at home resulting in hospitalisation or death by up to 20 per cent (TDHB, Health Promotion, 2009). On average each year, almost 30 New Plymouth residents die as a result of injury and a further 1,364 are admitted to hospital following an injury25. In 2005, there were 7253 Emergency Department (ED) clinic attendances following injury.
Alcohol effects the way people drive. Studies show that the risk of being involved in a crash increases rapidly as a driver’s blood alcohol level rises. The consumption of alcohol makes you three times more likely to be involved in a crash than if you have not consumed alcohol. In 2006, nationally, alcohol‐affected drivers contributed to 31 per cent of all fatal crashes and 15 per cent of all injury crashes.26 In the New Plymouth District, alcohol was a factor in 16 per cent of injury crashes in 2006, an increase from 2005, and increasing in line with the national trend.27 In 2007 the social cost of crashes involving alcohol was calculated as $838m.LTNZ briefing notes on road safety in the New Plymouth in 2007, report the major road safety issues for New Plymouth District are:
Nationally alcohol is also second. During the 2003‐2007 period local road fatality and serious crashes, where alcohol was a contributory factor accounted for 19 per cent of those crashes. For all injury crashes alcohol was a contributory factor in 16 per cent of these28.Drivers on restricted licences and unlicenced drivers are over represented in alcohol related traffic crashes. However across New Zealand crashes and fatalities where alcohol or drugs were a factor is falling,29 but LTNZ do report that only 58 per cent of serious crashes and 28 per cent of minor crashes are reported 30.Nationally of the 225 drivers/riders who were killed in road crashes in 2006, 26 per cent of those tested and at least 20 per cent of the total number killed was above the legal limit. A number of those not tested may also have had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit, so the percentage of killed drivers who were above the legal limit is likely to be higher than 20 per cent. An estimate of the number of untested drivers who may have been above the legal limit can be made by assuming that the alcohol involvement rate for untested drivers with 'alcohol suspected' is the same as that for the tested drivers with 'alcohol suspected' and similarly for drivers with 'alcohol not suspected'31.Return to top
A series of focus groups and key informant interviews, accompanied by a brief survey, were used to examine community members’ concerns about alcohol misuse within New Plymouth District. Participants were asked to consider the key alcohol issues facing New Plymouth at the current time.There was a high level of overlap and consensus in the issues and solutions identified by those who participated in the focus groups, and consultation interviews. Generally, those consulted considered that New Plymouth district experienced a small group of readily identifiable alcohol issues. Alcohol-related violence was identified as the most important current concern to be addressed, followed by concerns relating to the connection between alcohol and crime, social harms, young people’s drinking and drinking in public places. Most participants also considered that alcohol related harm in the New Plymouth district has worsened over the previous three years.There was also strong agreement across focus group participants that as a community, New Plymouth was well placed to address alcohol related issues as a result of its partnerships collaboration and willingness to develop a whole of community response to alcohol harm minimisation. The strong collaborative framework between the Council, other agencies and businesses was seen to provide a supportive framework for future activities.The Central Business District (CBD) was seen a high‐risk area for alcohol‐related crime and violence, particularly after midnight. Many people considered that the use of CCTV cameras was considered a useful tool to enhance perceptions of safety in this area, particularly when combined with a visible Police presence.The majority of focus group members including business representatives expressed concerns about the extent of alcohol related rubbish, particularly glass. Those persons who lived on the perimeters of liquor ban areas described regularly needing to remove glass bottles and cans from their gardens, as well as being exposed to excess noise levels at night when young adults were walking in and out of the CBD. Broken glass from alcohol containers was considered a high‐risk hazard for the community in general, particularly children and others who walked or bicycled.Drinking in public places, particularly in high visibility areas such as public parks, walkways and beaches was a key concern. Public place drinking was associated with increased fear of alcohol related harms such as assault and intimidation, particularly for vulnerable community members. Many participants considered that the existing liquor bans were a useful tool to address public place drinking, and some participants requested an increased numbers, as well as increased hours in specific bans. However, it was acknowledged that liquor bans could displace vulnerable people to community spaces, which were harder to supervise.Young people were identified to be at increased risk of alcohol related harm, and young people’s misuse of alcohol was considered indicative of community norms around alcohol use and abuse. High levels of concern were expressed about the illegal and irresponsible sale and supply of alcohol to young people, particularly from friends and family members. Young people were also seen to be at risk of alcohol related harms due to the environments that they consumed alcohol in, beaches and parks, which were considered public places that were out of public view.The concerns about alcohol misuse are reinforced through the licenced premises customer survey undertaken by the New Plymouth District Council Licensing and Enforcement Team in 2008. Approximately 75 per cent of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that drunken people can be a problem (Q.9) and felt that such persons should not be allowed into bars (Q.10). When asked (Q.11) about whether people felt safe when out drinking 40 per cent did not feel safe.Additional feedback from the community consultation can be found in Part 3 (Supporting Information).
This strategy has identified a number of alcohol related issues and opportunities for the Council and its partner agencies. The development of this strategy illustrates the willingness amongst the community agencies to address alcohol related harms. In addition, the current range of collaborative responses to reduce alcohol related harms indicates that relationships between the Council, Police, public health services, other agencies and community groups are positive. The combination of willingness to act, combined with positive partnering relationships, together provides a solid framework to support this strategy and the associated action plan.Return to top
1 The types of costs included in this figure are the total crime costs due to harmful alcohol and drug use, estimated at $1.1 billion including costs to the victims of crime, the use of Police resources, court related costs and prison (Geoffrey Palmer speech to Nelson Police, 24 April 2009).2 Statistics NZ – Average Weekly Expenditure for 2006/07.3 Wiggers, J., & Murray, S. (2005). Alco‐Link: Presentation to Working Together Conference 2005. Auckland: ALAC.4 New Zealand Police. (2006). New Zealand Police Alcohol Action Plan. Wellington: New Zealand Police.5 Crime Prevention Unit. Initiatives for Safer Communities. Presentation to Safer Communities Conference, August 2006.6 New Zealand Police. (2006). New Zealand Police Alcohol Action Plan. Wellington: New Zealand Police.7 New Zealand Police. Alco‐link report New Plymouth Area 2007. Provided 15 January 20088 - 14 ibid15 Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand. (2004). Controlled Purchase Operation Guidelines. Helping to reduce alcohol‐related harm among minors. Wellington: Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand.16 Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy. (2007). National Drug Policy 2007‐2012. Wellington: Ministry of Health17 Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand. (2005). New Zealand and it's drinking culture. Wellington: Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand18 Taranaki District Health Board. (2006). Key Findings from the 2006 New Zealand Health Survey for Taranaki. Health Promotion Unit, Public Health, Taranaki District Health Board19 Public Health Intelligence. (2007). Health Profile for Taranaki District Health Board. Wellington: Ministry of Health.20 Taranaki District Health Board. Provisional data: Number of publicly funded discharges for patients domiciled in Taranaki DHB, with any ICD‐10 v1 diagnosis of mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol (F10), by age, sex, and financial year. Data extracted 29 November 200721 McClennan V, Maskill C, Hodges I. (2006) New Plymouth District 2006 Community Injury Prevention Needs Assessment. Prepared for New Plymouth injurySafe.22 Taranaki District Health Board. Provisional data: Number of publicly funded discharges of patients domiciled in Taranaki DHB with any ICD‐10 v1 diagnosis of toxic effect of alcohol (T51) by age, sex and financial year. Data extracted 29 November 200723 Connor, J., Broad, J., Jackson, R., Vander Hoor, S., & Rehm, J. (2004). The burden of death, disease and disability due to alcohol in New Zealand. Wellington: ALAC24 Connor, J., Broad, J., Jackson, R., Vander Hoor, S., & Rehm, J. (2004). The burden of death, disease and disability due to alcohol in New Zealand. Wellington: ALAC25 McClennan V, Maskill C, Hodges I. (2006) New Plymouth District 2006 Community Injury Prevention Needs Assessment. Prepared for New Plymouth injurySafe.26 Land Transport New Zealand. (2007). Briefing Notes ‐ Road Safety Issues Taranaki. Taranaki: Land Transport New Zealand27 Land Transport New Zealand. 2007. Briefing Notes ‐ Road Safety Issues Taranaki. Taranaki: Land Transport New Zealand.28 Land Transport New Zealand, Briefing notes‐road safety issues New Plymouth District, 2008 report, 7 July 200829 Motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand 2006 [PDF 4,653 KB] – annual report by the Ministry of Transport, p6330 Land Transport New Zealand, Briefing notes‐road safety issues New Plymouth District, 2008 report, 7 July 200831 Motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand 2006 [PDF 4,653 KB] – annual report by the Ministry of Transport, p63Return to top