Australians drinking ‘significantly’ less alcohol than 40 years ago, industry report

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th January 2015
Australians drinking ‘significantly’ less alcohol than 40 years ago, industry report
Australians drinking ‘significantly’ less alcohol than 40 years ago, industry report

Australians are drinking 25 per cent less alcohol than 40 years ago, according to a new report prepared by the Australian Liquor Stores Association (ALSA).

ALSA said the report, which it said was based on data sourced from the Australian government, “dispels long held beliefs that Australians are drinking more alcohol than in the past and that violence is on the rise”.

ALSA is the National Association comprised of State and Territory Liquor Stores Associations, with approximately 3,000 retail liquor store members around Australia, including some of the most recognised brands in liquor retailing in Australia. These range from small family and independently owned local convenience outlets, independently owned and run outlets operating under banners such as Cellarbrations, Little Bottler, Local Liquor, Liquor Baron’s, Porters and more, through to Woolworths Liquor outlets including Dan Murphy’s and BWS and Coles Liquor outlets including First Choice, Vintage Cellars & Liquorland, and ALDI Licensed supermarkets.

The ALSA report follows an earlier report that saw government policy on alcohol consumption put under the spotlight. Australian Food News reported earlier in January 2015 that the majority of Australian jurisdictions had scored “well below” a pass grade in alcohol policy in an annual national scorecard prepared by the National Alliance of Action on Alcohol  a coalition of Australian health and community organisations that was formed with the goal of reducing alcohol-related harm.

Australia’s drinking habits have ‘changed significantly’, ALSA

Australian Liquor Stores Association CEO Terry Mott said that Australia’s drinking habits had “changed significantly over the course of the four decades” and that “we are more educated about alcohol and we are making much better choices than we ever have before”.

“Almost three quarters of all teenagers, under legal drinking age, drink no alcohol at all, with the proportion of minors choosing not to drink increasing by 29 per cent since 2007,” Mr Mott said. “The proportion of Australians who drink daily has also dropped in every age group from 18 to 70 plus over the past 10 years,” he said.

Mr Mott said the report found that alcohol related violence had “also dropped by 30 per cent since 2008 in New South Wales”.

Australian Food News reported in January 2014 that NSW that the NSW Government had introduced major reforms during 2014, including the introduction of 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks in Sydney’s CBD. The reforms also included bans on the sale of shots after midnight and a state-wide 10pm closing time for all bottle shops.

Liquor licenses increasing

Mr Mott said the report found that the changes in Australia’s alcohol consumption came “at a time when the number of liquor licenses has increased by 16 per cent”, which he said proved “a lack of evidence between alcohol availability and its consumption and subsequent violence”.

”Australian Institute of Health & Welfare data shows that Australians want governments to focus on problem drinkers, with harsher penalties for drink driving and tougher enforcement against those serving alcohol to minors, rather than punishing the entire community with punitive price increases or increased tax on alcohol,” Mr Mott said.

“The majority of Australian adults consume alcohol responsibly and enjoy the social benefits it brings,” Mr Mott said. “It is important to distinguish between the moderate consumption of alcohol by the overwhelming majority of Australians and the misuse of it by a small minority,” he said.

Key report findings

  1. Alcohol consumption has declined by 25 per cent since the 1970s In 1974-1975 Australians consumed the equivalent of 13.1 litres per person. This has fallen considerably since the early 80s, decreasing to 9.9 litres in the most recently reported year of 2012-13.
  2. More teenagers under legal drinking age are abstaining from drinking alcohol Over the past six years there has been a statistically significant increase in abstention amongst Australia’s youth. The total proportion of young people abstaining has increased from 56 per cent in 2007 to 72 per cent in 2013.
  3. Alcohol related violence is decreasing Encouragingly alcohol related assaults in NSW have decreased by 30 per cent in the last six years.
  4. Australians support targeted measures rather than whole of population control measures to curb alcohol abuse Population wide measures to reduce alcohol related problems receive the lowest level of community support with only 28 per cent favouring an increase in the price of alcohol, compared to targeted measures which are strongly supported such as greater enforcement of penalties for drink drivers (85 per cent), enforcement against supplying minors (84 per cent) and enforcement against serving intoxicated customers (82 per cent).
  5. An increase in packaged liquor licences has not led to an increase in alcohol consumption Alcohol consumption per capita has declined over the same period that packaged liquor licences have been increasing. What this means is that consumption is falling at a time of significantly greater footprint of liquor store outlets in Australia.

Mr Mott said reducing alcohol abuse had been an ongoing commitment from industry and governments through education and enforcement strategies.

“Australia’s Changing Drinking Habits report reveals for the first time the success of the industry’s campaigns by examining the facts, figures, forecasts and trends in various data sets obtained through government agencies,” Mr Mott said. “We bring the common social misconceptions of alcohol to light through Australia’s Changing Drinking Habits report, showing both alcohol related violence and assault trending down substantially over the past six years,” he said.