By: Eleanor Ainge Roy of The Guardian
The New Zealand Medical Association has called for a ban on selling alcohol in supermarkets, saying that having it next to groceries and food normalises a dangerous drug.
Wine and beer have been widely available in most supermarkets around the country since 1990, although spirits can be bought only in bars and off-licences.
The New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA) said having alcohol in supermarkets normalised the drug, and made buying it cheap and easy – meaning people put a bottle of sauvignon blanc in their trolley alongside their bread, milk and toilet paper without a second thought.
According to the association well over half a million New Zealanders consume alcohol in a hazardous way, with many emergency rooms filled on Friday and Saturday nights with alcohol-related admissions.
The NZMA believes it is the government that is best placed to crack down on heavy consumption – a position supported by many health and social policy academics and Alcohol Healthwatch.
Dr Kate Baddock, the chair of the association, said evidence suggested alcohol was worse than methamphetamine, marijuana and heroin, because it was a cheap, addictive, psychotropic drug.