23 Dec 2013

Principal alarmed at alcohol sachets

8:17 am on 23 December 2013

A high school principal says new concealable alcohol sachets will be a nightmare for preventing excessive drinking at school balls.

The $2 packets of flavoured vodka have been condemned by the police and a health advocacy group. Police say they are dismayed the sachets are on sale and will be looking into how they can influence their availability.

The sachets sold under the brand name 'Cheeky' each contain the equivalent of 0.4 of a standard drink or two-fifths the amount of alcohol in a can of beer.

Patrick Walsh, principal of John Paul College in Rotorua, says the small packets are much harder to detect than a hip flask. "Pre-loading is a major issue and now with these sachets of alcohol that adds a new dimension to it."

He says the Principal's Association has only just developed guidelines to allow students to be breathalysed before entering a ball, and it feels like every time schools solve one problem with alcohol a new one emerges.

One of the owners of the company producing the packets says he's prepared to adjust the product's marketting if there's enough concern.

Lewis Gyde told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Monday he carefully researched the product before launching it, taking into account strict new alcohol laws.

"The police as well obviously do have an issue with our product so I'm always willing to have transparent and honest conversation and adjust the branding and marketing if that's what they feel is causing a huge problem."

Mr Gyde says the product has a lower alcohol percentage than some others on the market, and it's not a part of the country's binge drinking culture.