PICTURE THE SCENE: A hot summer’s day is drawing to a close, as tanned surfers walk up the beach with their hipster surfboards, following an afternoon riding perfect waves in the warm, turquoise water. A chilly-bin is pulled from the back of the retro van, ice-cold beers are cracked open and passed around the flawless guys and girls – sun-bleached hair still wet from the sea. There are smiles and laughter … a celebration of good times with great friends.
Now, I don’t know about you, but that looks like a mighty fine way to spend an afternoon. And the talented advertising gurus in the alcohol industry certainly want us to think that. Okay, most Kiwis don’t quite fit the above picture. (Few of us have perfect bodies – and warm, turquoise water with great surf is more myth than reality down-under!) But the cracking of a beer or … (insert favourite drink here) definitely does fit, up and down the country.
Having a drink is part of our culture, with 79% of the population over the age of 15 imbibing within the last year. Rugby, racing and beer is an often-quoted mantra describing the interests of the typical Kiwi bloke – and the yard-glass is seen as a rite-of-passage for our young men. But the damage alcohol causes our society is significant. More and more studies are showing that the innocent-looking scene above – Kiwis (young and old) enjoying a ‘bevvy’ or three – has a less pleasant side … one that the industry does its best to hide.