Politicians Got It Wrong on Drinking Age – Poll

Media Release 5 March 2013
A nationwide poll of 1,000 people has found that almost 2/3’rds of NZ’ers believe that Parliament got it wrong on the recent vote on the drinking age.

An independent poll by Curia Market Research, commissioned by Family First NZ, asked respondents “Do you think Parliament should have raised the drinking age to 20 or kept it at 18?”

62% of respondents said Parliament should have voted to raise the drinking age to 20. Only 32% agreed with the politicians that it should remain at 18, and 7% were unsure or refused to say. Those in more deprived areas were far more likely to want the age raised, as were people aged 40 and over. Labour voters were more in favour of raising the age than National voters. There was little difference between males and females.

“Health boards, health professionals, police, family groups, addiction experts, the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, leading scientists, and the general public – including young people – were all shouting to politicians to raise the drinking age to 20 in order to protect young people and to save lives,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.

“Alcohol policies and decisions about a legal drinking age should have been firmly based on the health and well-being of New Zealand’s young people. New medical evidence on accident probability, disease and brain development, along with the Child and Youth Mortality Review, and the recommendations of the Prime Minister’s chief science adviser, made it absolutely clear that delaying the age at which teenagers and young people have easy access to alcohol would reduce the level of damage they and society suffer at the moment as well
as contributing to their future health and well-being,” says Mr McCoskrie.

“The split-age proposal was confusing, sent a mixed message, and was not supported by frontline workers who are still mopping up the mess of alcohol abuse on a regular basis.”

“This poll confirms that the politicians were out of touch with grassroots New Zealanders on this issue. The politicians should increase the drinking age to at least 20 in the best interests of our young people and society.” 

Recent Polls on raising drinking age

* Herald-Digi Poll Raise alcohol buying age: poll More than half of those polled supported a purchasing age of 20 for all types of licensed premises (July 2012)
* Stuff.co.nz Online poll (12,700 votes) Only 24.5% say purchase age should stay at 18 (May 2012)
* Curia Research poll of teenagers 15-21 – When asked “Do you think the age at which someone can purchase alcohol should remain at 18 or be raised to 20?” 33% of those aged 18 and 19 agreed it should be raised. For those who were aged 20 or 21, 51% supported an increase to 20 (Jan 2012)
* Herald
-Digi Poll Big Majority for raising the drinking age An overwhelming majority of people support raising the legal purchase age for alcohol to 20 for bars and liquor shops, including supermarkets, according to the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey. …When asked by the pollsters to choose between three options for the minimum age to buy alcohol, 58.6 per cent preferred 20, which was the age before a law change in 1999. Only 14.5 per cent wanted the status quo of 18, while 25.7 per cent wanted a split age. (June 2011)
* Online NZ Herald poll showing 72% support for their call to raise the drinking age to 21 – over 10,000 people voting (Feb 2011)
* Health Sponsorship Council 78% raising minimum purchasing age to 20 (2010)
* Dominion Post online poll 77% of New Zealanders wanting the legal drinking age put back to at least 20 (2010)
* Police Association poll 75% (2009)
* Research NZ poll (almost 75% – 2009)
* Christchurch Press poll 75% (2009) Of most significance was the Christchurch Press poll which found majority support for raising the drinking age from those aged under 30. Even younger people realize the urgent need for turning back the liberalized laws.
* ONE News/Colmar Brunton poll 71% (2004)


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