Alcohol is a significant public health issue. It is responsible for 600 to 800 deaths in New Zealand each year. A Ministry of Health study found that for New Zealanders aged 15- 44 years, alcohol use disorders are among the top three causes of health loss due to premature death, illness or impairment.
The study also reported that 1 in 5 people that consume alcohol have a hazardous drinking pattern, with the most at risk groups being young people aged 18 – 24 years (especially men) and Maori and Pacific island populations. It also reports that 1 in 5 women pregnant in the past 12 months consumed alcohol while pregnant.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies alcohol as a group one carcinogen (similar to tobacco) and it is associated with oral, nasopharyngeal, laryngeal, breast, intestinal and liver cancers. It is linked to over 200 diseases and conditions including alcohol dependency, liver disease, cardiovascular disease and injuries from road traffic accidents and other causes.
Any consumption of alcohol has potentially detrimental health effects. Reducing alcohol intake would result in a healthier New Zealand population and lead to lower health costs.
What we do at Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service
At Toi Te Ora – Public Health Service we endeavor to reduce alcohol related harm at a population level. This includes advocating and supporting:
Research and evaluation of effective population-based strategies and measures that successfully reduce alcohol-related harm.
Reducing health inequalities associated with alcohol consumption, including support of community groups and healthcare providers that specifically address alcohol-related harm in high-risk populations.
The continued monitoring of licensed premises, contributing to the enforcement of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, providing submissions on alcohol issues to regional councils and local and central government, and supporting community input into local alcohol licensing decisions and community actions to reduce alcohol-related risks.
National strategies to prevent or delay the uptake of alcohol consumption and to reduce excessive drinking by adults and young people.
The World Health Organisation strategies for reducing alcohol consumption and related risks.
Resources and information for health professionals
Alcohol and pregnancy
Other information and tools