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HomeNewsHome-delivered alcohol boom opens door to underage drinking

Home-delivered alcohol boom opens door to underage drinking

Researchers from NSLHD Health Promotion have found a rapid expansion in online liquor delivery services is making it easier for minors to obtain alcohol, due to regulatory loopholes and non-compliance with legal requirements.

The team’s research found the number of online liquor licences in NSW increased five-fold from 2010 to 2018, reflecting a broader trend towards home delivery of alcohol that has only been further fuelled by the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns. 

Recently published by the Sax Institute’s Public Health Research and Practice journal, the research looks at whether online alcohol delivery services operating during 2018 in NSW were compliant with regulations and adopted safeguards relating to underage access to alcohol.

NSLHD Director of Health Promotion Paul Klarenaar said they reviewed legal safeguards in NSW around underage access to alcohol, identifying several areas where the requirements were more ambiguous or less restrictive for holders of online liquor licences, compared with physical outlets such as bottle shops.

“Our findings informed the drafting of new amendments to tighten controls around same-day alcohol delivery, which came into force in NSW earlier this year,” he said. 

“These include prohibition of same-day deliveries being left unattended; mandating age verification at both the point of purchase and delivery; and requiring all same-day delivery drivers to undertake responsible delivery of alcohol training.”

“However there remain gaps in the legal safeguards preventing minors from ordering alcohol online, particularly as the new amendments only regulate same-day deliveries.”

The research found 60 per cent of services did not comply with the legal requirement to ensure purchasers provided their date of birth to confirm they were over 18 years and only 22 per cent of services specified on their website that someone over 18 had to accept the delivery. 

Paul said the need for tighter regulation of online liquor supply extends well beyond NSW. 

Evidence is emerging, internationally and nationally, that growth in online liquor licences has been accompanied by increased risk of supply to young people.
NSLHD Director of Health Promotion Paul Klarenaar

“Alcohol is one of Australia’s leading causes of drug-related death and was a contributing factor in 4,186 deaths in 2017. 

“Since 2015, the proportion of people in NSW aged 16 years or over drinking at levels posing long-term risk to health has been increasing, which has coincided with a spike in alcohol-attributable hospitalisations in NSW.”

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