Case for Change

In New Zealand, you must be 18 years or over to purchase alcohol

Less than 10% of adolescent drinkers under 18 years of age in New Zealand report being able to buy alcohol themselves.

Bottle stores are the most common place of purchase, followed by supermarkets and other places.

Many students who buy their own alcohol report not being asked for ID. 

Buying alcohol is related to heavy drinking - if we reduce underage sales we may reduce heavy drinking.

The number of licensed premises in a community, especially clubs and off-licences, is related to underage purchasing.

Supply of alcohol from licensed premises

 In New Zealand, you must be 18 years or over to purchase alcohol

In 2012, one in every 13 (7.8%) New Zealand adolescent drinkers under 18 years of age reported buying their own alcohol.

  • Of these, 69% bought it from a bottle store, 15% from a supermarket and 17% from other places.
  • One-quarter (25%) reported that they almost never or hardly ever are asked for ID. This was higher (28%) amongst students living in neighbourhoods of high deprivation [18].

In New Zealand, buying alcohol when under 18 years of age is strongly related to heavy drinking [19]. Therefore, preventing underage sales could reduce heavy drinking.

Reducing the number of licensed premises in a community could reduce underage sales of alcohol. A study in Australia found that the more outlets in a community, the more underage purchasing. The impact of club licences was the strongest, followed by off-licence outlets.

The number of alcohol outlets in a community is also related to adolescent drinking. Click on the links below to read more:

Harms from adolescent drinking  Trends in adolescent drinking in New Zealand

Alcohol availability and adolescent drinking

Factors that protect young people from harm