Today MPs will have a conscience vote on the drinking age.
That’s all well and good, but it is mainly a distraction from the fact that National will not be reforming where it matters.
National say they’re acting on the vast majority of the Law Commission’s recommendations, but they’re missing the ones that the Law Commission – and relevant academics – say matter.
Number one is price. A minimum price for alcohol ($1/unit?) would be best, but if not, then at least some increase in the excise. If it works for tobacco, it will work for alcohol (as it has in the past).
Number 2 is advertising – and there will be no added restrictions. The alcohol industry will continue to make drinking look cool and sexy and then throw up their hands “blame-free” as to why young impressionable people over-consume their product.
Number 3 is availability. There is some tinkering here, but nothing to scare the alcohol industry too much. National’s policy is to not hurt the alcohol industry by reducing the amount that’s drunk, but to somehow magically reduce the harm that’s done by that drinking. Alcohol doesn’t work that way.
The government even decided that the alcohol industry could “self-regulate” over RTDs. Their idea of not having more than 2 standard drinks per beverage (even if all companies comply) will only result in super strong shots, encouraging even faster drinking… A maximum strength needs imposing: all around the world the alcohol industry has cried “self-regulation” to get their way.
So yeah, I don’t think 2 years of “training wheels” in bars is a bad idea. But the focus on 18- and 19-year-olds’ drinking is a sideshow to avoid the main event, when our society has the drinking problem.
[stuff for a good chunk of yesterday had only Labour MPs would have a conscious vote on the whole bill... it seems a bit harsh to suggest that all the other parties aren't conscious...]
Update: And remain at 18 it is. Graeme Edgeler’s Alcohol Game Theory turned out to be a good prediction: the compromise got eliminated and MPs chose between 18 & 20, despite neither having majority support.