By Andrew Starke
The anti-alcohol advocacy industry has been dealt a blow by the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) research which concluded that Australia’s alcohol per capita consumption is significantly lower than it was in the mid 1970s.
Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA) CEO, Terry Mott, welcomed the findings which he said were in direct contrast to recent claims in the media that there had been a big increase in alcohol consumption in the past two decades or that alcohol consumption was at an all-time high.
“It’s amazing that the media or the ABS doesn’t challenge the misinformation being pedalled by those with vested interest in promoting alcohol research funding,” he said.
According to Mott, liquor store retailers and most other industry members recognise the harm inflicted by a minority of irresponsible consumers who simply don’t care about the harm they inflict on themselves or others.
”The industry continues to work along with governments to develop strategies and campaigns to minimise the harms caused by those people,” he said.
“However, to penalise the entire population including the vast majority of moderate alcohol consumers with more Nanny State restrictions or higher prices is not an effective way to target those few who won’t control their own behaviour.”
Mott said he suspected those calling for a tougher regulatory environment to be imposed on liquor sales had ulterior motives for their actions.
”There seems to have been a campaign recently by some in the anti-alcohol advocacy industry to reinvent folklore, apparently to suit their tired, total population alcohol control policy theories,” he said.
“They need alcohol consumption to be rising to support those theories, without ever seeming to focus on the problem behaviours and inappropriate patterns of consumption by those causing the problems.”
The latest ABS research found that Australia’s alcohol per capita consumption in 2008/2009 was significantly lower than it was in the mid 1970s.
"In 1960-61 Australians consumed the equivalent of 9.3 litres of pure alcohol per person, climbing to a high of 13.1 litres in 1974-75,” it states.
”Consumption started to fall in the early 80's, hitting a low of 9.8 litres in 1995-96. Since then, it has crept up again to 10.4 litres in 2008-09, which is still a fifth lower than the 1974-75 peak."
There has also been a drop in per capita alcohol consumption in 2010 compared to 2009, down from 10.4 to 10.37 litres of pure alcohol / capita – a decline of over 18 percent since 1979.