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Alcohol (Ethanol or Ethyl alcohol) is the ingredient found in beer, wine and spirits that makes people drunk. It is the most commonly used recreational drug in New Zealand.

Drinking alcohol has many harmful short and long-term effects for individuals and for society.

Consuming large amounts of alcohol in one sitting can cause drowsiness, slowed breathing, coma and even death.

Drinking alcohol over many years also carries risks. Alcohol is a “carcinogen,” it causes cancer in a similar way that tobacco and radiation exposure does. It is linked to mouth, throat, bowel, liver and breast cancer.

Alcohol also has many other harmful effects such as mental health issues, alcohol dependence or addiction, liver disease, heart disease and injury from road traffic accidents and violence.  Consuming alcohol while pregnant can cause Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

Below are some useful links to help you find out about the harm alcohol might be causing you and what to do if you want to make a change:

More information on alcohol is available for:

The World Health Organisation and Ministry of Health websites also provide comprehensive information on alcohol and its effects.

What we do at Toi Te Ora Public Health

Toi Te Ora Public Health contributes to the regulation of local alcohol sale and supply and promote strategies to reduce harm caused by alcohol through:

  • Researching and evaluating strategies to reduce harm from alcohol to the population.

  • Supporting community groups and healthcare providers to reduce alcohol related harm and health inequalities.

  • Helping to enforce the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 – monitoring licensed premises, submitting on alcohol-related issues to regional councils and government and helping the community have their say about local alcohol licensing.

Read about Toi Te Ora Public Health's position on alcohol.

Toi Te Ora Public Health also actively participates in the following groups and coalitions:

Or you can contact us for more information or to make a complaint about licensed premises.


How to take action in your community – reducing harm from alcohol

For information on how to make a submission about alcohol, object to an alcohol licence or influence your local alcohol policy view the Health Promotion Agency's guide to taking action or Toi Te Ora's submission guide.

Below are links to the various district licensing committees in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes areas.  These provide information on alcohol licensing laws and making complaints. 

If the council has a local alcohol policy, this is also listed below.  A local alcohol policy is a set of decisions made by a council in consultation with its community about the sale and supply of alcohol in its area. Local alcohol policies are optional. Councils are not required to have one, although most have chosen to.



A range of health education resources about alcohol can be viewed and ordered from HealthEd and the Health Promotion Agency.


Further information

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