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Australia is increasingly a country of moderate drinkers

Heavy episodic drinking is at its lowest level across the country since 2001, according to new data from the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking.

A report from IARD, released today, shows that binge drinking is on the decline in Australia, with only 25.5 per cent (29.5 per cent in 2004) of people drinking more than 40 grams of alcohol – equivalent to three bottles of full strength beer, or three 150ml glasses of wine, or four nips of spirits on one occasion.

But, despite the 13.5 per cent fall in the number of Australians binge drinking, only 10 per cent of Australians surveyed agree that it has decreased in the last 10 years, with over half (58 per cent) thinking binge drinking has increased.

“More work is still needed, but the evidence clearly shows Australians are turning their back on binge drinking, and moderation is the new norm,” said Alcohol Beverages Australia CEO Andrew Wilsmore.

“The real issue, however, is the perception that binge drinking is on the increase.

“Perception is often regarded as reality, and these views might be encouraging governments to further regulate what is already one of the most strictly regulated and highest taxed alcohol industries in the world.”

Overall drinking has declined in the last 50 years, and the report released today is “yet another example of how well Australians are responding” to messages about the importance of enjoying alcohol in moderation, Mr Wilsmore continued.

“The regulatory settings in Australia are some of the harshest in the world and no longer in touch with the Australian lifestyle – where drinking in moderation is the new norm,” he said.

“Targeted solutions are needed for the remaining small percentage of the population who continue to drink at high-risk, but it’s well past time for governments to give the vast majority of responsible drinkers a fair-go and start rewarding them with similar freedoms enjoyed in many other parts of the world."