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Decline in beer drinkers

Tuesday, 8th April, 2014

Kate Leo and Craig Baron enjoy a beer at the Democratic Club, after statistics released recently said people are drinking less alcohol. Kate Leo and Craig Baron enjoy a beer at the Democratic Club, after statistics released recently said people are drinking less alcohol.

By Emily Roberts

Australians are drinking less alcohol overall than any time in the previous 15 years, according to the latest figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The decrease is mainly due to a continuation of the downward trend in apparent consumption of beer, at the same time as a flattening out in wine consumption.

“Across all alcoholic beverages, there were 9.9 litres of pure alcohol available for consumption in 2012-13 for every person in Australia aged 15 years and over,” said Louise Gates, Director of Health from the ABS.

“This is the lowest level since the mid-1990s.”

Ms Gates said in terms of pure alcohol, consumption of beer has more than halved since the peak in the mid-1970s, and is now at the lowest level since 1945-46.

“For wine, there has been a steady increase in people’s consumption over the long term but recently this trend appears to have plateaued, and in fact, per person consumption of wine has decreased slightly over the past three years,” she said.

“Ready-to-drink beverages have also seen a drop over the past five years, while consumption of spirits has remained relatively steady.”

However, beer still comprised the greatest proportion of all pure alcohol consumed in Australia at 41 per cent, followed by wine (37 per cent), spirits (13 per cent), and ready-to-drink beverages (7 per cent). Cider is estimated to account for a small but growing proportion, at 2 per cent.

Dean Trengove of the Mulga Hill Tavern, said decline in beer, has seen a decline in violence.

“I think there are a lot less alcohol related incidents associated with the decline in beer,” he said.

Mr Trengove said the change in drink consumption might be based on Government taxes.

“Spirits and ready to drink (RTD) beverages contain a massive amount of sugar, as well as massive amounts of alcohol

“I think there has been a shift from traditional beer to high volume spirits.”

Mr Trengove said despite the shift, it doesn’t mean people are being responsible.

“Also if you tax something out of existence, people will find a cheaper option - that could possibly be drugs,” he said.

“People will find a way to get around taxes and legislation.

“You can’t legislate against stupidity - if people want to do things, they will do it.”

Education was the most important tool against alcohol related incidents.

“I think more needs to be done in the way of education rather than restriction, then let them make their own decisions once they’ve got all the information.

“People need to remember it’s all about being responsible.”

Mr Trengove said it was important to remember that pubs and clubs provide a service.

“We are providing a service with entertainment, food, beverages, social atmosphere and jobs.

“I think it is a huge advantage to be able to train young people and give them options to be chefs or hospitality staff.”

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