Senate passes alcopops bill: a victory for health says Alcohol Policy Coalition

Thursday 13 August, 2009

A Coalition of health agencies has welcomed the Senate's decision today to pass the "alcopops bill".

"This is an important step forward in tackling alcohol problems in Australia," said Alcohol Policy Coalition member Professor Robin Room (Turning Point Alcohol & Drug Centre) in commenting on the tax measures and related health initiatives passed today.

"The Senate is to be congratulated for standing up to the spirits industry and reaching agreement on this historic package of initiatives aimed at addressing harmful alcohol use across our community."

In addition to making the increased tax on alcopops permanent, Alcohol Policy Coalition member Craig Sinclair (Cancer Council Victoria) said the other elements of the agreement including the creation of a $25 million health sponsorship fund for community sport was particularly significant.

"This initiative will support sporting and cultural activities across the country to get out from under the grip of the sponsorship deals that have been provided by the alcohol industry," he said.

John Rogerson, CEO of the Australian Drug Foundation, said the mandatory health warnings on alcohol advertising also contained in the agreement were another significant step forward in tackling the burden of alcohol in the community.

Todd Harper, VicHealth CEO, said the package was a step in the right direction to changing the harmful drinking culture amongst young people in Australia, and he congratulated the Senate for its commitment to strengthening the range of alcohol harm reduction measures that accompany the alcopops tax legislation.

Recent research commissioned by the Australian Drug Foundation and VicHealth found that 89 percent of people believe that some of the alcohol tax revenue collected should be used to fund alcohol prevention and treatment programs.