By Ian Neubauer
The Rudd Government’s new initiative to address binge drinking has received widespread support from the liquor industry.
On Monday the Prime Minister announced a $53 million program to address the binge drinking epidemic among young Australians, with $20 million budgeted for hard-hitting advertising that confronts young people with the “costs and consequences” of binge drinking. The remainder will be allocated to community and sporting organisations and to intervention and treatment programs for binge drinkers.
The Distilled Spirits Council of Australia (DSICA) welcomed the move, saying youth binge drinking concerned many Australians.
“These are effective methods to reduce excessive drinking among Australians,” said DSICA spokesperson, Stephen Riden. “A variety of interventions will be required to bring excessive drinking down to acceptable levels. The government is taking a smart approach.”
The Winemakers Federation of Australia (WFA) said it completely supported the initiative.
“This commitment of real dollars is a very positive move from the government on this challenging issue,” said WFA chief executive, Stephen Strachan.
“Initiatives that address irresponsible patterns of consumption — specifically binge drinking — and target high-risk groups in the community, such as youth drinkers, have the complete support of the WFA.”
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre manager, Paul Dillon, said the initiative was a step in the right direction.
“It’s exciting that the Federal Government has decided to deal wit this first. They haven’t gone off on an illicit drug and said ‘let’s target that’,” Dillon told Channel 9.
“They actually said alcohol’s the first thing we want to handle and really that’s the first thing that leads to other problems,” he said.
The anti-binging initiative will dovetail the Rudd Government’s wider commitment to establish a National Preventative Health Taskforce, which will examine ways to reduce the health problems caused by excessive alcohol consumption.