Today the Herald on Sunday editorial and Kerre McIvor launch into RTD manufacturers.
First up the editorial:
The legislation may need to be revisited to ensure its intentions are clear. Though no parental permission appears to have been given for the supply of alcohol in this instance, the law allowing liquor to be given with parental permission to teenagers below the legal purchasing age may need to include an absolute minimum age for alcohol consumption.
And the sale of canned RTD mixes should be reconsidered too. They are purposely designed for young drinkers. When the law was revised a year ago, the industry was told to voluntarily control these drinks or face regulation. It has set a maximum alcohol content for the cans and banned advertising that appeals to minors.
But sweet drinks in cans will always entice the young. It is time they were banned. Beer, wine, and spirits have a natural child barrier: children by and large do not like them. But potent cocktails are a different proposition for those who are not ready to drink.
The industry says RTDs are giving way to cider among younger adults. It should encourage that trend and phase out RTDs entirely. What better reason does it need than the images of a 9-year-old wasted at a skate park?
That image ought to haunt the liquor industry and legislators for a long time. The video went worldwide and the image may have an impact far beyond New Zealand. The boy, meanwhile, needs help. The police and family services must ensure he receives it.
It clear to all that self regulation appears to be failing. I’m not sure Independent Liquor wanted a nine year old drunk, weed smoking, maori kid to be the poster boy for their Cody’s brand.
Kerre McIvor launches into the manufacturers as well.
Apart from the people who thought it was okay to give a 9-year-old spirits, it’s the RTD manufacturers for whom I have the most contempt. They load the drinks with sugar to mask the taste of the alcohol, a taste that most kids find unpalatable. They market the drinks using bright colours and trendy advertising, then sit back and watch the money roll in.
Alac has found that 43 per cent of drinkers aged 12 to 17 consumed RTDs on their last drinking occasion and 47 per cent of female secondary students say RTDs are their drink of choice. The RTD industry’s cynical drug-pushing seems to be working.
I hope the police are able to track down whoever supplied this child with the drink and fine them under the new liquor laws. In the meantime, it’s sobering to have it sheeted home that every statistic in the underage drinking percentile has a name – and a face.
I think we will now start seeing local body politicians pushing quite stridently for the removal of those cheap and nasty booze shops in local communities pushing their products clearly targetted at kids.