About the project:
Currently 15 to 17 year olds are second only to 18 to 24 year olds for emergency department presentations for alcohol related injury. This is despite the fact that 15 to 17 year olds should legally only have access to alcohol under supervision of their parents or guardians. Parental education is having a positive impact, but our surveys between 2012 and 2017 indicate that a substantial number of bottle shops will sell alcohol to teenagers without checking ID. All five surveys have demonstrated sales rates greater than 20% and two have been greater than 40%.

Making progress in this area has required an array of interesting partnerships, including: partnering with an industry recognised shopping surveying organisation, Liquor and Gaming NSW, Sydney Local Health District (which is looking to replicate our surveys), the local Liquor Accords, direct involvement of our Chief Executive in communications with local Bottle Shops regarding their responsibilities, and New Zealand Health Promotion Agency and New Zealand Police.

New Zealand has made world leading steps towards controlling sale of alcohol to minors through Controlled Purchase Operations. We have made similar positive strides with Tobacco Sales to Minors, but our law currently prevents us from organising minors to attempt to purchase alcohol for the purpose of enforcement.

How did we do it?
While we are specifically prohibited from organising minors to attempt to purchase alcohol, we are free to check compliance with the ID25 protocol. That protocol requires that the Bottle Shop staff check the ID of all customers who might be less than 25 years of age before they sell them alcohol. An industry recognised shopping survey organisation checks bottle shops compliance with ID25 using 18 and 19 year olds. The surveyors are “teenagers” who are legally allowed to buy alcohol. Failure to comply with ID25 is not illegal, but it does indicate that in that instance the bottle shop would have been at risk of making an illegal sale.

Sydney Local Health District attempted to replicate our results; however in their survey fully three-quarters of bottle shops did not check ID. In this current 12 months we have not had another Liquor and Gaming prosecution as we did in early 2015; however we continue to communicate the risk of a prosecution through letters to bottle shops and communications and presentations at our local liquor accords.

What did we achieve?
Our key achievement in this 12 month period is a survey of over three-quarters of all bottle shops on the Central Coast. This has returned a preliminary result of around 25% of bottle shops making a sale, which is one of our best results, and second only to the time immediately following the 2015 prosecution.

Look out for...
We have been selected for publication in an upcoming injury supplement in the Health Promotion Journal of Australia. Providing the journal is happy with any suggested alterations we will be published soon.


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