By Amy Looker, editor National Liquor News
An analysis of government data by the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) has once again confirmed that Australians are drinking less alcohol than they were 40 years ago, resulting in a significant decrease in alcohol-related violence.
Australia’s Changing Drinking Habits, released today by ALSA, contradicts the ongoing campaign by the anti-alcohol movement that Australians are drinking more, drinking earlier and that alcohol-related violence is on the rise.
Using findings from government-commissioned studies including the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey, ABS and BOCSAR data, the report shows that not only are Australians drinking 25 per cent less alcohol, violent incidents related to alcohol have also dropped by 30 per cent since 2008.
ALSA’s chief executive officer Terry Mott said the report proves that Australia’s drinking habits have changed significantly and that the vast majority of the population consume alcohol responsibly.
“We are more educated about alcohol and we are making much better choices than we ever have before. These results come at a time when the number of liquor licences has increased by 16 per cent, proving a lack of evidence between alcohol availability and its consumption and subsequent violence,” said Mott.
”Australian Institute of Health and Welfare data shows that Australians want governments to focus on problem drinkers, with harsher penalties for drink-driving and tougher enforcement against those serving alcohol to minors, rather than punishing the entire community with punitive price increases or increased tax on alcohol.
“The majority of Australian adults consume alcohol responsibly and enjoy the social benefits it brings. It is important to distinguish between the moderate consumption of alcohol by the overwhelming majority of Australians and the misuse of it by a small minority.”
Mott said reducing alcohol abuse had been an ongoing commitment from industry and governments through education and enforcement strategies.
“Australia's Changing Drinking Habits report reveals for the first time the success of the industry’s campaigns by examining the facts, figures, forecasts and trends in various data sets obtained through government agencies,” he said.
“We bring the common social misconceptions of alcohol to light through Australia's Changing Drinking Habits report, showing both alcohol related violence and assault trending down substantially over the past six years.”
Click here to listen to Terry Mott interviewed on Radio 3AW this morning.
Key Findings of Australia's Changing Drinking Habits
- Alcohol consumption has declined by 25 per cent since the 1970s
In 1974-1975 Australians consumed the equivalent of 13.1 litres per person. This has fallen considerably since the early 80s, decreasing to 9.9 litres in the most recently reported year of 2012-13.
- More teenagers under legal drinking age are abstaining from drinking alcohol
Over the past six years there has been a statistically significant increase in abstention amongst Australia’s youth. The total proportion of young people abstaining has increased from 56 per cent in 2007 to 72 per cent in 2013.
- Alcohol related violence is decreasing
Encouragingly alcohol related assaults in New South Wales have decreased by 30 per cent in the last six years.
- Australians support targeted measures rather than whole of population control measures to curb alcohol abuse
Population wide measures to reduce alcohol related problems receive the lowest level of community support with only 28 per cent favouring an increase in the price of alcohol, compared to targeted measures which are strongly supported such as greater enforcement of penalties for drink drivers (85 per cent), enforcement against supplying minors (84 per cent) and enforcement against serving intoxicated customers (82 per cent).
- An increase in packaged liquor licences has not led to an increase in alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption per capita has declined over the same period that packaged liquor licences have been increasing. What this means is that consumption is falling at a time of significantly greater footprint of liquor store outlets in Australia.