Election 2020

Every decision-maker plays a key role in reducing alcohol-related harm and enabling a healthier, fairer Aotearoa New Zealand. By implementing evidence-based policies, we have the potential to improve everything we deeply care about. 

With less alcohol harm, we can; improve our mental wellbeing, reduce suicide and family harm, have safer roads and communities, improve our physical health (e.g. fewer injuries, birth defects and cancers) and lift employment and productivity. Every New Zealander stands to benefit as a result of improved safety and substantial cost savings. Our core services and sectors, such as ACC, police, health, welfare and justice will experience significant gains from reduced harm. The possibilities and benefits are endless.

Independent public opinion polling shows strong support among New Zealanders for more action to be taken on alcohol harm.

The evidence-based, pro-equity policies listed below will make the biggest difference to shifting our drinking culture and reducing harm in our country, especially to those who are disproportionately affected. This includes women and children, as they suffer the greatest harm from the drinking of others. Pro-equity polices are also needed to uphold our obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi, ending the longstanding inequities in alcohol-related harm between Māori and non-Māori.

Evidence-based policies

Reduce the hours that alcohol can be sold
Reform the local alcohol policy process (currently dominated by alcohol industry appeals)
Limit the number of places that sell alcohol
Raise the alcohol purchase age to 20 years

Increase alcohol prices, on average, by at least 10% through raising alcohol excise taxes
Implement minimum unit pricing for alcohol (MUP)
Stop under-taxing wine; tax wine by alcohol content and not beverage volume
Restrict the use of price promotions and discounts
Require the industry to report sales data

Implement comprehensive statutory restrictions to alcohol marketing and sponsorship
(a) Fund the replacement of alcohol sponsorship of community and professional sports
(b) Restrict alcohol marketing on social/digital media platforms
(c) Restrict alcohol advertising near schools and ECE centres
(d) Develop an independent system of alcohol marketing surveillance
(e) Require Government health (e.g. cancer) warning labels on alcohol products

Increase funding for screening and brief interventions for hazardous drinking
Increase funding for the diagnosis of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
Increase support for individuals and families affected by FASD

Increase funding for compulsory roadside breath testing
Increase effective interventions for repeat drink-drive offenders
Further reduce the legal drink drive limit for adults

Mandate a register of lobbying of designated public officials
Provide robust protection for alcohol control measures from alcohol industry interference



  • New Zealand’s legislative default trading hours for off-licences (7am to 11pm) and on-licences (8am to 4am) are too long, increasing the serious risk of alcohol harm in communities
  • Alcohol outlet density is highest in socio-economically deprived communities
  • Community efforts to address alcohol outlet saturation in their neighbourhoods have been unsuccessful
  • Councils trying to uphold community wishes for greater alcohol control have faced lengthy and costly legal challenges to their local alcohol policies, largely by the alcohol industry interests (e.g. supermarkets and bottle stores)
  • Young people experience disproportionately more harm from their drinking and can be protected by increasing the legal purchase age


  • A strong body of research shows that increasing the price of alcohol is the most effective and cost-effective measure to reduce alcohol use and harm
  • New Zealand research in 2017 found that alcohol was more affordable than ever before
  • 50% increases in alcohol excise tax will increase alcohol prices, on average, by 10% and reduce overall consumption by 5%
  • The cheapest alcohol in New Zealand is sold for as little as 68 cents per standard drink
  • Wine is taxed at a flat rate that assumes all wine is 10% alcohol strength – this is well below the current alcohol content of wines and represents significant lost tax revenue. The low rate effectively means that the 5th glass in a bottle is effectively tax-free.
  • Heavy drinkers are more likely to buy cheap alcohol
  • Many countries and jurisdictions have recently implemented MUP, showing positive effects
    Low income, heavy drinkers accrue the vast majority of health benefits from Minimum Unit Pricing


  • Among young people, exposure to alcohol marketing has been shown to increase the likelihood of starting to drink and drinking heavily
  • Persons with alcohol dependence (and those in recovery) are particularly vulnerable to the effects of alcohol marketing
  • Tamariki Māori are disproportionately exposed to alcohol marketing, particularly via alcohol sports sponsorship and shop fronts of licensed premises
  • Industry self-regulation of alcohol advertising (through a voluntary code of practice) is ineffective
  • Sophisticated and unique targeting of alcohol marketing via digital media platforms is increasing markedly, proving difficult to identify and monitor for compliance and enforcement purposes
  • Other countries are implementing comprehensive restrictions to marketing or adopting measures that specifically protect children (e.g. by requiring no alcohol advertising around schools)
  • Individuals and communities have a right to know the health impacts of alcohol whether it is cancer, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, poor mental health, family harm, etc

Health Services

  • Alcohol screening and brief interventions in health care settings are cost-effective
  • FASD is a lifelong disability that is largely unaddressed, leaving affected individuals and whānau struggling without appropriate cross-sectoral intervention and support

Drink driving

  • The number of random breath tests per year continues to fall below best practice levels
  • Alcohol is involved in around one-third of all road deaths in New Zealand
  • Between 2014 and 2016, for every 100 alcohol or drug-impaired drivers or riders who died in road crashes, 37 of their passengers and 19 sober road users died with them
  • In some parts of New Zealand, the rate of alcohol-involved deaths and serious injuries has been increasing
  • Many countries now have a blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.02% for adult drivers

Alcohol industry influence

  • New Zealand has measures in place to protect tobacco policies, but not alcohol policies, from commercial interests
  • In relation to New Zealand’s heavy drinking culture, the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry report noted that “Strong vested interest groups have incentives to resist change.”
  • Transparency is essential to an effective democracy
  • International experience shows the benefits of a lobby register when developing and implementing strong alcohol control measures

Download the pdf of the scorecard below or here.

Election 2020 Alcohol Policy Scorecard


Unfortunately, only a few parties have released their policies so far. Details are available at

https://policy.nz/topic/health#Alcohol%20and%20drugs or


You can use our scorecard to see how they measure up. When more parties have listed their policies we hope to provide an update!