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You may as well drink alcohol, and not water anymore -as a new study suggests that booze is the cheapest drink available in New Zealand - even more than water.

The research conducted by Otago University found that alcohol has become increasingly affordable within the span of last 10 years.

The Government said that the findings are concerning, and the researchers are using their report to highlight the health and social cost of alcohol misuse - and to push for an increase in the tax on liquor.

"Our analysis suggests alcohol is now probably the cheapest recreational drug in New Zealand and has become increasingly affordable, at the same time as concern about the binge-drinking culture has grown," the New Zealand Herald quoted Nick Wilson, author of the study, as saying.

He and co-author Dr Fiona Gunasekara found discounted cask wine could cost as little as 62c for a standard drink, discounted beer 64 c, discounted bottled wine 65c and spirits 78c. That compared to 67c for a 250ml glass of bottled water and 43c for a glass of milk.

Heavily advertised alcohol discounts, such as in supermarkets, exacerbated the problem.

The researchers said the Government was shooting itself in the foot by spending ever-increasing amounts of money on alcohol-related health and crime problems.

Alcohol Action Group spokesman Professor Doug Sellman, from the National Addiction Centre, said the new study made the issue clear-cut.

"No one can say you're talking it up. Lower prices equal harm. Increasing prices was the easiest and most effective way to curb problem drinking," Sellman said.

The research is published in the New Zealand Medical Journal.


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