New Zealand’s new alcohol laws: protocol for a mixed-methods evaluation Academic Article uri icon


  • Alcohol consumption is a major cause of mortality and morbidity globally. In response to strong calls from the public for alcohol law reform, the New Zealand Government recently reduced the blood alcohol limit for driving and introduced the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act which aim to (1) improve community input into local decision-making on alcohol; (2) reduce the availability of alcohol; and (3) reduce hazardous drinking and alcohol-related harm. In this project we seek to evaluate the new laws in terms of these objectives.A policy evaluation framework is proposed to investigate the implementation and outcomes of the reforms. We will use quantitative and qualitative methods, employing a pre-post design. Participants include members of the public, local government staff, iwi (Māori tribal groups that function collectively to support their members) and community group representatives. Data will be collected via postal surveys, interviews and analysis of local government documents. Liquor licensing, police and hospital injury data will also be used. Community input into local government decision-making will be operationalised as: the number of objections per license application and the number of local governments adopting a local alcohol policy (LAP). Outcome measures will be the 'restrictiveness' of LAPs compared to previous policies, the number (per 1000 residents) and density (per square kilometre) of alcohol outlets throughout NZ, and the number of weekend late-night (i.e., post 10 pm) trading hours. For consumption and harm, outcomes will be the prevalence of hazardous drinking, harm from own and others' drinking, community amenity effects, rates of assault, and rates of alcohol-involved traffic crashes. Multiple regression will be used to model how the outcomes vary by local government area from before to after the law changes take effect. These measures will be complemented by qualitative analysis of LAP development and public participation in local decision-making on alcohol.The project will evaluate how well the reforms meet their explicit public health objectives.


  • Maclennan, Brett
  • Kypri, Kypros
  • Connor, Jennie
  • Potiki, Tuari
  • Room, Robin

publication date

  • December 2015