In-home drinking in spotlight after “misleading” FARE poll

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) has published the results of a poll undertaken prior to COVID-19 which suggested that Australians drink more at home than at pubs, hotels or restaurants.

FARE also claimed to have found that the accessibility of alcohol home delivery was prompting increased drinking, and that IDs were not being routinely checked by couriers.

However Retail Drinks Australia, which represents the interests of Australia’s packaged retail liquor stores, has retaliated, calling the poll “misleading” in relation to drinking habits and claims about alcohol home deliveries.

Below are the press releases detailing both sides of the argument.

Media release from the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education.

Annual Alcohol Poll 2020: We drink more alcohol and most often at home – even before COVID-19 lockdowns

The home is where the majority of Australians who use alcohol have the largest quantity per occasion and drink most freque­­ntly, rather than at pubs, clubs or restaurants.

The Annual Alcohol Poll 2020: Behaviours and Attitudes (the Poll) found that 67 per cent of Australians who drink alcohol had the largest quantity on one occasion in the past 12 months in the home, which is also where the majority (73 per cent) drink most frequently.

The Poll by YouGov Galaxy, for the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), was conducted in January/February just before the COVID-19 lockdown measures were introduced.

FARE CEO Caterina Giorgi says drinking in the home is a long-standing trend that has since intensified.

“Despite what many of us assume, people who drink alcohol are more likely to do so at home – and this is true even before the lockdown measures. This is the case whether people are younger or older, women or men, or living in major cities or regional areas,” Ms Giorgi said.

The Poll finding that the majority of people listed home as the place they drank the largest quantity of alcohol is consistent across generations with 60 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds drinking the most on one occasion at home, as well as 77 per cent of people 50 and older.

The Poll also found that 80 per cent of people 50 and older and 62 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds drink most frequently at home, as do men (71 per cent) and women (75 per cent), and people in major cities (71 per cent) and regional areas (80 per cent).

“Drinking in the home is widespread, yet we don’t often think about the harms from alcohol occurring in the home because they’re largely invisible. Alcohol increases the severity and frequency of family violence and contributes to a range of cancers and alcohol dependence. These harms have significant negative impacts on children, families and whole communities,” Ms Giorgi said.

The Poll also examined alcohol retail online and found that of people who had ordered alcohol online in the past 12 months, 23 per cent had alcohol delivered at least weekly and almost half (44 per cent) had alcohol delivered within two hours.

Of the people who had online retailers deliver within two hours 70 per cent drank more than four standard drinks that day, while 38 per cent drank 11 or more standard drinks that day.

“Retailers are pushing alcohol into homes at all hours, with delivery as soon as 30-minutes. These practices are contributing to riskier alcohol use, and commonsense measures such as introducing a two-hour delay between online orders and delivery, are needed to prevent harm,” Ms Giorgi said.

The Poll found online alcohol retailers were not routinely checking ID, with only 38 per cent of people indicating their ID was checked on delivery and 25 per cent saying the alcohol was left unattended.

“Everyone selling alcohol should be required to check IDs because no-one should be able to sell alcohol to children, which is illegal in pubs, clubs and bottle shops. But there’s a gaping hole in our laws around online alcohol sales where there is zero requirement for ID checks. This loophole needs to be closed to keep our children, families and communities safe,” Ms Giorgi said.

Media release from Retail Drinks Australia.

FARE’s Annual Alcohol Opinion Poll misses the mark on alcohol consumption and online delivery services

Retail Drinks Australia (Retail Drinks) has today criticised the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education’s (FARE) 2020 Annual Alcohol Poll as presenting an incomplete and misleading view of Australians’ alcohol consumption habits and use of online alcohol delivery services.

Retail Drinks’ Acting CEO Michael Waters said that the Poll was a thinly veiled attempt to tarnish liquor retailers and urge Governments to extend liquor regulation further into Australian households.

“Like clock-work, the anti-alcohol industry have again misleadingly claimed to have developed ‘the nation’s most comprehensive annual survey’ on alcohol consumption amidst a raft of upcoming state and territory elections.”

“The headline finding from the FARE Poll – that Australians are drinking more from home – completely ignores the fact that Australians are continuing to make more responsible choices around alcohol, drinking less often and increasingly opting for lower alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages.

Waters also disputed the Poll’s findings around the online alcohol delivery sector, stating that they do not present an accurate or complete picture and therefore cannot be used as the basis for effective policymaking or regulation.

“The data presented in FARE’s Poll paints a misleading view of the online alcohol delivery sector, particularly in relation to identification procedures and unattended alcohol deliveries.

“Whilst the Poll reports that only 38 per cent of survey respondents were asked for ID, this was only during the actual delivery and did not include whether customers had already provided their ID at the initial point of sale.

“The reality of the sector is that many retailers already know their customers and have previously verified their identity and age through their respective online platforms. It is completely nonsensical to require an adult to provide ID when they have already been verified as over 18.”

Waters also pointed out that the Poll’s finding of 25 per cent of online alcohol deliveries being left unattended also failed to point out the fact that the unattended alcohol deliveries were occurring in the non-same day environment and were being done safely and in accordance with specific instructions provided by the customer.

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