Laws to reform our drinking culture take effect

  • Judith Collins

Key features of the Government’s alcohol reforms come into force this week and provide a strong platform to help drive change in New Zealand’s drinking culture, Justice Minister Judith Collins says.

“For the first time in more than two decades the Government is acting to restrict, rather than relax, our drinking laws. These changes strike a sensible balance between curbing the harm alcohol abuse can cause, without penalising responsible drinkers.

“The reforms place more responsibility on those who may provide alcohol to young people and give parents more control. The changes also require the alcohol industry to play their part to ensure alcohol is used, sold and supplied safely and responsibly.”

Parts of the new law, introduced by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, have been phased in over the past 12 months, but many of the key features take effect from 18 December. These include:

  • requiring anyone who supplies alcohol to under-18-year-olds to do so in a responsible manner, and to make sure they have express consent from the young person’s parents or guardians
  • introducing new alcohol licensing criteria, making licences harder to get and easier to lose
  • stronger controls on alcohol advertising and promotion, such as by making it an offence to promote alcohol in a way that has special appeal to minors
  • introducing a range of new on-the-spot fines for offences such using false or fake IDs and drinking in alcohol ban areas
  • providing a clear definition of “intoxicated,” which will make it easier for operators to meet their obligations to not serve intoxicated people, or to allow people in that condition to enter or remain on licensed premises
  • introducing stronger rules about the types of stores eligible to sell alcohol
  • phasing in rules restricting supermarkets and grocery stores to displaying alcohol in a single area
  • maximum trading hours to reduce the availability of alcohol, especially at times when people who have already had a lot to drink might buy more

Ms Collins says the new express permission and responsible supply rules send a strong message to parents and also provide a tool for Police to intervene in poorly supervised parties, such as after-ball functions.

“Setting good examples for our children and providing a safe environment for the younger generation is crucial to help drive change in New Zealand’s drinking culture,” Ms Collins says.

“This Government has delivered a wide range of measures to reduce alcohol-related harm. But change cannot be achieved through legislation alone. Our reforms provide all parts of society – central and local government, communities, parents, young people and industry – with tools to help make a change for the better.”

More information about the new laws is available at