Alcohol killed or helped kill a quarter of the young people who died from the major categories of accidents and assaults in the last few years, an official review has found.
A special report by the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee, published today, has found that alcohol was involved in at least 31 per cent of road accident deaths, 30 per cent of fatal assaults and falls, 21 per cent of deaths by poisoning, 16 per cent of drownings and 10 per cent of suffocations by young people aged between four weeks and 25 years between 2005 and 2007.
About 86 per cent of those in their early twenties, and 52 per cent of those aged 15 to 19, died because of their own drinking.
The other 48 per cent of 15 to 19-year-olds and 14 per cent of those in their early twenties died because of someone else's drinking - usually the driver of a car.
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"Alcohol behaves like a toxic tide impinging on all children and young people born and growing up in New Zealand," said Nelson paediatrician Dr Nick Baker, who chairs the committee.
The committee urges Parliament to consider toughening up the Alcohol Reform Bill now before MPs, including raising alcohol prices, raising the purchase age, reducing trading hours, banning alcohol advertising and initiating debate on banning drinking, as distinct from merely buying alcohol, by all young people.