Beer and wine should be banned from supermarket shopping, according to medical professionals.

The Medical Association is calling for a ban of the sale of alcohol in supermarkets, joining campaigners from Alcohol Healthwatch who call supermarket chains "drug pushers".

"We think of trauma; we think of cirrhosis of the liver. What we don't necessarily think of is high blood pressure, strokes, breast cancer - all have a component caused by alcohol," Dr Alastair Humphrey told Newshub.

Wine and beer - although not hard spirits - have been permitted for sale in supermarkets since 1989. Now 60 per cent of wine sales are from supermarkets, some bottles selling for the equivalent of less than $1 per standard drink.


"It normalises it, as if it's your bread and your milk," Dr Nicki Jackson of Alcohol Healthwatch told Newshub.

"In fact it's New Zealand's most harmful drug in society - more than methamphetamine, more than heroin, more than tobacco. We don't want this in our supermarkets."

While people have the choice to buy alcohol or not, having it readily available "in our faces" makes it harder to resist, she believed.

The campaign is particularly timely given the recent decision by the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority to allow Auckland Council to adopt a policy of freezing new off-licences in certain parts of the city for two years.

While the policy, announced on July 19, isn't an outright ban, it does guide officers' decisions on whether to grant new licences in areas particularly affected by alcohol-related incidents.

Supermarkets are unlikely to be affected by the policy, as the majority of their business is unrelated to alcohol sales.