In New Zealand, adolescents under the minimum purchase age (18 years) are commonly supplied alcohol via social sources such as parents/guardians, friends and others (social supply).
A report form New Zealand’s Health Promotion Agency presents findings from the analysis of two national general population surveys in 2013 and 2015 that were undertaken to better understand the patterns of social supply in New Zealand. Social supply is defined as supplying alcohol to those under the minimum purchase age for alcohol of 18 years by parents/guardians, friends and others.
Four key patterns of social supply in the past six months were investigated from the supplier’s perspective:
1. The prevalence of social supply at least once to someone under 18 years of age was 8.3% in 2013 and 6.4% in 2015. Among adolescent drinkers aged 16-17 years, around 90% received alcohol from social sources in 2013 and 2015. Suppliers most commonly supplied alcohol to sons or daughters. For example, in 2015 twice as many suppliers provided alcohol to sons/daughters (48%) than provided to friends under 18 years (22%). 28% of suppliers provided alcohol to other relatives in 2015.
2. Suppliers on average supplied alcohol four times in the last six months in 2013 and three times in 2015. The top 10% of suppliers did so once a fortnight in both years.
3. On average, suppliers usually supplied seven drinks (equivalent to 7 x 330ml stubbie bottles of beer). This figure was consistent in both 2013 and 2015. The top 10% of suppliers usually provided around 20 drinks when they supplied. The usual quantity of drinks supplied to friends under 18 years was higher than the usual quantities supplied to sons or daughters (around 12 drinks compared to around 5 drinks respectively).
4. Suppliers most commonly supplied beer and ready to drinks (RTDs). In 2015, twice as many males supplied beer to sons/daughters compared to females (68% vs 31%), while twice as many females supplied RTDs to sons/daughters compared to males (41% vs 18%).
Around one quarter of suppliers thought that the alcohol they supplied to their sons or daughters or friends would be shared (at least some of the time).
Suppliers who reported supervising the under 18s they supplied reported supplying a lower usual quantity relative to suppliers who did not supervise - 6.5 drinks vs 10 drinks respectively.
Males were more likely to be suppliers than females. The 18-24 year olds were more likely to be suppliers than the older age groups. Asian peoples and Pasifika were less likely to be suppliers (compared to the NZ European group).
The report states that there is evidence of some early impacts of a law change on social supply (through the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012). A small decrease in the frequency of social supply was found. Friends were less commonly supplied to, were supplied with fewer drinks and there was a tendency for greater supervision of social supply to friends (and to other relatives).