Opposition to alcohol advertising ban in South Africa strengthens

2nd September, 2013 by Amy Hopkins

Voices against a proposed bill to ban all alcohol advertising in South Africa have grown louder since it was revealed the move could negatively impact on the economy.

The bill to ban alcohol advertising in South Africa has been met with staunch opposition by the sports and arts industries, which depend heavily on sponsors

The bill to ban alcohol advertising in South Africa has been met with staunch opposition by the sports and arts industries, which depend heavily on sponsors

Last week, the South Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SACCI) announced that health minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s bid to ban the advertising of alcohol would not effectively combat the country’s alcohol problem and could instead disenfranchise the nation.

In a statement released a few days ago, SACCI chief executive Neren Rau, said: “Restrictions on marketing will not only have negative consequences for an important South African industry, but will also have a ripple effect on businesses in other areas such as advertising, retail and hospitality industries.”

“The motivation given for the proposed ban is understood, but SACCI believes that it will not address the ills attributed to the misuse of alcohol.”

Last week, the country’s Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to combat alcohol and substance abuse – formed by members of the departments of social development, health, education, justice, police, and trade and industry – agreed to submit a draft of the bill entitled Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages.

The IMC believes that more drastic action needed to be taken to curb alcohol abuse as current initiatives were not yielding results.

A statement by the committee said: “Research has shown the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse among adults in South Africa is rapidly expanding to the destruction of families, community, and society. Government cannot afford to ignore or be quiet about it.”

South Africa’s department of health has estimated that alcohol consumption costs the government almost R38 billion, while intangible costs could reach R240 billion. Alcohol abuse was also ranked as the third leading risk factor for death and disability in the country.

But Rau continued: “Alcohol abuse is a symptom of more serious socio-economic and unemployment challenges that face the country. Alleviation of alcohol abuse will be achieved if these challenges are addressed.”

Adding: “An increasingly restrictive business environment will continue to reticence against doing business in South Africa.”

The SACCI opposition comes only a few days after a political stalemate between social development minister Bathabile Dlamini and sports minister Fikile Mbalula who said he was concerned the proposed ban could cause South Africa to lose half a billion rand.

If passed, the bill would also see South Africa’s legal drinking aged raised from 18 to 21 and establish a zero tolerance approach to drunk driving.

For a comprehensive look at the situation, see the September issue of The Spirits Business.

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