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The University of Otago has released a new study looking into public awareness of cancer risk factors, with a particular focus on alcohol and dietary factors, and support for evidence-based alcohol and food policies to reduce people's exposure to these risks in their environment.
So, they found that there is some awareness of modifiable risks and those risk factors for cancer, but more needs to be done to increase awareness and give people the knowledge to make healthier choices. They also studied our support of certain policies and discovered that the majority of the country's adult population supports banning alcohol sponsorship at sport, community, and other events that under 18-year-olds go to. 58% support or strongly support this.
We also support the idea that the alcohol industry should not be involved in developing government policies to reduce alcohol harm. So 51% of us support or strongly support this. The research showed that there was slightly less support for making alcohol more expensive through an excise tax, with the extra money going towards treatment and harm prevention methods, 46% support or strongly support this.
The authors of the study believe that these policies, which the public has shown support for, should be the starting point for the government to take action on reducing the rates of preventable cancers in New Zealand, thus preventing unnecessary illness and death, and reducing the pressure on our struggling health system. We should be knowledgeable about the risk of drinking and we should be mature enough to accept it.
But I'm all for individuals making up their own minds when it comes to booze. I enjoy a drink and I think that you're responsible for your own drinking habits. But I would also be quite happy if we reduced the visibility of alcohol, especially to younger people, and we have been talking about removing alcohol sponsorship for years. And of course, Chloes Swarbrick had the Alcohol Harm Minimalisation Bill, which failed at its first reading recently. We've really dragged our feet in this area.
And look, I know it would be tough on events which rely on it for sponsorship. You would need to phase it out so that new opportunities could be sought. But if you're running a large really successful event then surely you'd be able to replace that sponsor with someone else. Another bank or insurance company who's doing quite well. I do understand it's more difficult when you're talking about grass roots, sports clubs and things that they could potentially be left high and dry, so you'd need to work out how things work there so that they didn't lose their support.
But you know what? I'm all for making it less visible, less sexy, less associated with high performance sport and success, and pretty relaxed about reducing how much we normalize alcohol and society. I would also love to see the alcohol lobby have less of an influence on government. That wouldn't hurt either, but I'll believe that when I see it.
And I can't believe I'm saying this, but I also don't have a problem with alcohol being a little bit more expensive, especially if my extra dosh goes towards treatment and harm prevention. If it meant I purchased a little less each week, that's actually not a bad thing.
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