Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Survey shows Kiwis in denial on booze: lobby

Drinkers like to think only binge boozing is harmful but that's not so, says activist group. Photo / NZPA
Drinkers like to think only binge boozing is harmful but that's not so, says activist group. Photo / NZPA

Only 15 per cent of us admit to drinking too much, and beer pips white wine as the favourite Kiwi summer tipple, a poll has found.

The Herald-DigiPoll survey found 29.3 per cent listed beer as their favourite summer tipple, followed by white wine on 27.5 per cent.

A majority of men (50.6 per cent) preferred beer, compared with only 9.3 per cent of women who claimed the brew to be their favourite form of alcohol.

Just under 15 per cent of respondents thought they drank too much; 84.2 per cent said they did not.

Alcohol Healthwatch director Rebecca Williams said that was against all evidence - national alcohol surveys have consistently found about 25 per cent of adults are binge drinkers or are drinking at harmful levels.

"Many Kiwis tend to underestimate their drinking to justify that they're not drinking excessively, and this could be what the poll result reflects," said Ms Williams.

"We know that even small amounts of alcohol regularly can be quite harmful, but many drinkers would like to believe that only binge drinking is harmful.

"I think what we're seeing is that people are freely drinking alcohol because you can buy it in the supermarket, it's cheap and readily available, and it's not seen as being a drug," Ms Williams said.

"But this line of thinking is actually quite concerning, especially if alcohol is seen as just another soft drink or something to quench their thirst."

The poll was taken between December 9 and December 16 with a sample size of 500 respondents.

Other surveys by the Alcohol Advisory Council found 647,200 people drank between three and seven times a week, 1.4 million drank at least once a week and 877,200 drank three times a month or less.

Beer is by far the most popular alcoholic drink in the country, and New Zealand is ranked 19th in the world in beer consumption, at around 75.5 litres a person a year.

A Law Commission paper, Alcohol in Our Lives, found drinking to intoxication and regular binge drinking "are persistent characteristics of New Zealand's drinking culture".

Do you think you drink too much?
Yes 14.9%
No 84.2%
Don't know 0.9%

What's your favourite summer tipple?
Beer 29.3%
White wine 27.5%
Champagne 11.4%
Red wine 10.2%
Don't drink alcohol 14%
Other 5.5%
Don't know 2.2%

- NZ Herald

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