Selling booze in supermarkets will kill people: researchers
INCREASING alcohol availability through supermarket sales is "dangerous and it's going to kill people", says one of Queensland's leading alcohol researchers.
Professor Jakob Najman said the number of people who died from alcohol use exceeded the number who died from cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, amphetamine and all other illicit drugs combined, by five to 10 times.
Mr Najman, from the University of Queensland's Queensland Alcohol and Drug Research and Education Centre, said alcohol was now the third biggest contributor to death around the world.
He said research showed a clear connection between alcohol availability and the harm it caused.
"It is, next to smoking, the major thing we can reduce to save human life and to reduce the level of injury and violence in society," he said.
His comments come as ALDI Australia asks the Queensland Government to begin a dialogue on selling alcohol in this state's supermarkets, something the company already does in Victoria, NSW and the ACT.
They will submit the proposal following the government releasing a discussion paper on potential reforms to the state's liquor regulations.
ALDI regional director Viktor Jakupec said his company would respond to the paper proposing a controlled and responsible model for selling liquor in supermarkets.
"The landscape has changed and it is time the Liquor Act 1992 is updated to meet the modern shopping needs of Queenslanders and the expectations of tourists and visitors," he said.
"Australian consumers want convenience and choice when shopping. The large majority of Australians drink responsibly and should not be disadvantaged when purchasing."
ALDI says its proposal would ensure liquor was not readily available to at-risk groups, including steps such as selling a limited range, unchilled products and smaller packaged volumes.
Current Queensland liquor regulations allow only commercial hotel licence holders to operate bottle shops.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said he was open to any discussions liquor and gaming industries suggested, regardless of whether or not it was mentioned specifically in the discussion paper.
Mr Najman said supermarket chains Woolworths and Coles had already placed many liquor outlets near their supermarkets to "get people to buy alcohol the same way they buy morning cereal".
He said there was now scientific evidence alcohol was a carcinogen which caused breast, throat, oral and oesophageal cancer.
Mr Najman said the government should be careful about bowing to commercial interests seeking greater profits at the expense of Queenslanders' health.