Should taxes be raised further on alcoholic drinks?
Should taxes be raised further on alcoholic drinks? Mara Pattison-Sowden

Higher booze prices 'best way to combat abuse'

AUSTRALIA'S boozing behaviour is being curbed by the rising cost of alcohol and reduced trading hours for pubs and clubs, a new report suggests.

But there is still a disturbing level of binge drinking by young people - and some are suggesting those same people may take 20 years before they seek help for their drinking problem.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare's 10-year survey of the nation's drinking habits shows young adults are the most likely to consume alcohol at risky levels.

The report shows overall, Australians are consuming less alcohol, from an average 10.8 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2008-09, to 9.7 litres per person in 2013-14.

And almost 75% of young people aged 12-17 abstained from alcohol in 2013, up from 64 per cent in 2010, separate research shows.

Australian governments, including those in Queensland and NSW, have tried to limit the impact of alcohol-fuelled violence by reducing trading hours of pubs.

Should tax be increased on alcohol to combat abuse?

This poll ended on 28 October 2016.

Current Results

Yes. It might stop some of the violence

7%

No. Alcohol prices are already too high

63%

Yes. But only if the money goes into health services

7%

No. They need to curb trading hours

8%

No. The biggest problem is number of booze outlets

13%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

But according to the report, raising the cost of alcohol, through taxation, is the most effective way of curbing consumption.

"Research shows increasing the price of alcohol, restricting trading hours and reducing outlet density can have positive outcomes in reducing consumption and harms related to alcohol use," the AIWH report found.

But there is still concern about drinking levels, particularly by young people, many of whom are now resorting to drinking before going out, due to high prices at pubs and clubs.

For young adults aged 18-24, 47% reported they had drunk alcohol at risky levels once, 33% reporting drinking at "very high levels" yearly, and 18% drinking at "very high levels" monthly.

Short term risks include anti-social behaviour, exposure to violence, including domestic and family violence, accidents and injury.

Longer term risks range from chronic health conditions, such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and alcohol dependence.

So what's considered harmful drinking?

• Single occasion risk (monthly) -drinking more than 4 standard drinks on a single occasion on at least
a monthly basis.

• Lifetime risk - drinking more than 2 standard drinks a day, on average.

• Very high risk (yearly, monthly or weekly) - had consumed 11 or more standard drinks on a single
occasion at least yearly, at least monthly or at least weekly in the past 12 months.

Some of the key findings

 

  • Nationally, the population rate of pure alcohol available for consumption has steadily declined since 2008-09- although mixed trends were apparent by jurisdiction.
  • The total volume of pure alcohol available for consumption in Australia has increased from around 160 million litres of pure alcohol in 2004-05 to over 180 million litres in 2013-14.
  • Once population growth was accounted for, apparent per capita consumption decreased from 10.8 litres per person in 2008-09 to 9.7 in 2013-14-this trend varied by jurisdiction.
  • Research shows increasing the price of alcohol, restricting trading hours and reducing outlet density can have positive outcomes in reducing consumption and harms related to alcohol use.
  • Reviews have found strong evidence for the effectiveness of restrictions on economic availability (such as increased taxes and minimum pricing) and physical availability (such as restricting the days and hours of sale).
  • The biggest decreases in rates were reported for Australians drinking at risky levels on a single occasion (11%) and over a lifetime (13%).
  • Remote and very remote areas had higher rates than other areas for people drinking at risky levels and receiving treatment for alcohol
  • Australians aged 18 to 24 were more likely than any other age group to drink at risky levels, but clients receiving treatment for alcohol were more likely to be aged over 40.
  • In 2013, most Australians who reported single occasion risky drinking (47%), yearly drinking at very high levels (33%) and monthly drinking at very high levels (18%) were aged 18 to 24.
  • Those who reported lifetime risky drinking were most likely to be aged 40-49 (23%); similarly, the largest group of clients in treatment for alcohol were aged 40-49 (49%).


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