New Zealand guidelines recommend that young people delay alcohol consumption for as long as possible, particularly those under the age of 15 years. It is further recommended that if drinking has initiated, it should occur under guidance, and at low levels and frequency.
New Zealand law states that only persons 18 years and over can purchase alcohol.
New Zealand does not have a legal age for drinking, unlike the United States.
There are penalities if a young person under the age of 18 buys alcohol - they could be fined up to $2000.
There are also laws around others (parents, friends, etc) supplying alcohol to those under 18 years. Click on the section alcohol supplied by parents or alcohol supplied by others, for more information.
Many young people are exposed to alcohol and promotions as they go about their everyday lives.
They may be exposed to alcohol and its branding in their homes, in sports clubs, on TV / radio / internet, billboard, etc , and in their local supermarket. They may also be exposed to alcohol promotions as they walk past bottle stores on their way to school.
Alcohol advertising and young people: the law
Alcohol advertising and sponsorship play a key role in many young people wanting to drink alcohol.
New Zealand does not have laws that ban alcohol advertising or sponsorship.
Our laws do prohibit alcohol advertising that has special appeal to minors (under 18 years).
It is illegal in New Zealand for anyone to promote or advertise alcohol irresponsibly, including in a manner aimed at, or that has, or is likely to have, special appeal to minors. You need to be able to prove that this was the intent of the advertisement.
Visit the advertising and sponsorship section for more information.
Display of alcohol in supermarkets: the law
Supermarkets and grocery stores are required to limit the exposure of alcohol. All alcohol for sale must be contained in a single area/s of the premises. Click here for more information.
Alcohol advertising and sponsorship: Code of Practice
There are limited alcohol advertising controls in New Zealand.
Apart from the laws (above), most alcohol advertising is regulated by the alcohol industry and their media/advertising agencies.
We rely on the alcohol industry to adhere to a voluntary Code of Practice. This code has the following guidelines which specifically relate to young people:
- No alcohol advertising on television is permitted between 6:00am and 8:30pm. There are no such controls for any other media such as radio, internet, cinema or bill-boards. Alcohol sponsorship advertisements can be shown any time.
- Alcohol advertising shall not use or refer to identifiable heroes or heroines of the young.
- Alcohol advertising and promotions shall not use designs, motifs, or cartoon characters that have strong or evident appeal to minors or that create confusion with confectionary or soft drinks.
- Anyone visually prominent in alcohol advertising and promotions depicting alcohol being consumed shall be, and shall appear to be, at least 25 years of age with their behaviour and appearance clearly appropriate for people of that age or older. Minors may appear in alcohol advertising and promotions only in situations where they would naturally be found, for example in a family barbecue, provided that there is no direct or implied suggestion that they will serve or consume alcohol.
- Alcohol branded merchandise, point of sale materials and other promotions for alcohol must not be available in unrestricted areas at events or activities where more than 25 per cent of the expected audience is minors.
- Websites that provide online retail sale of alcohol products shall require purchasers to certify that they are 18 years of age or over.
- Websites that primarily promote an alcohol brand and contain games, competitions or other interactive activities shall have an Age Verification Page at entry. Verification shall be by way of input of the visitor’s date of birth.