Supermarkets are drug pushers who are selling high quantities of discounted wine and should be viewed the same as dealers dishing out Ecstasy pills or morphine.

It may seem extreme but it’s a view that Professor Doug Sellman, director of the National Addiction Centre and spokesman for the Alcohol Action Group, is taking quite seriously.

Professor Sellman believes the Government should remove alcohol from supermarket shelves and limit the amount of advertising operators are allowed for liquor, among many changes he hopes might alter people’s attitudes to drinking.

Think it’s over the top? He will tell you that’s because you have been brainwashed into downplaying our excessive consumption of alcohol. In a three-month study of advertising in the NZ Herald, Dominion Post, the Christchurch Press and the Otago Daily Times, Professor Sellman said New World was the country’s biggest “drug pusher” because it had the most alcohol-related advertising.

Some supermarkets also sold alcohol below cost to lure customers in, which was contributing to the problem.

“Having the cheapest alcohol in town gets people into the supermarket to then buy the other stuff … It’s basically maintaining the heavy-drinking culture.

“The sale of alcohol in supermarkets is very accessible and normalises it as an ordinary grocery item so people are slowly brainwashed into thinking, ‘This actually isn’t a drug, this is like fruit and vege.’ “

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