Our Drinking Environment

Our drinking landscape - alcohol is over-supplied and advertised heavily

Our drinking landscape has changed considerably over the last 30 years. We have seen dramatic increases in the number of places selling alcohol, the affordability and types of alcoholic products available, and use of innovative marketing strategies to advertise them. 

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Beginning in 1989, new liquor laws increased the availability of alcohol across New Zealand [1] - wine and beer became available in supermarkets and grocery stores in 1989 and 1999 respectively [1]; the minimum legal age to purchase alcohol was reduced from 20 to 18 years in 1999.

The number of places that sold alcohol more than doubled from to 6,300 in 1990 to 14,200 in 2009 [2].

Today, around 75% of all alcohol in New Zealand is sold from off-licences: 43% from bottle stores and 32% from supermarkets and grocery stores [1].

More liquor outlets are concentrated in poor suburbs than rich suburbs [3].

The increasingly availability of Ready to Drinks (RTDs) has had a huge impact on heavy drinking in New Zealand, particularly among young girls.

Alcohol has become more affordable over time [4].  

In 2009, it was estimated that $200,000 was spent each day advertising alcohol in New Zealand [5].

Within prime-time television viewing in New Zealand, a scene depicting alcohol occurs every 9 minutes [6].

In New Zealand, $85 million is spent per week on alcohol ($4-5 billion per year). 

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