Dti launches anti-alcohol abuse campaign

Monday, September 5, 2011

Pretoria - Parents, communities and other stakeholders have been called to join the fight against alcohol abuse, which costs the economy at least R9 billion a year as the Department of Trade and Industry launched its Sobriety Week Campaign. 

Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Elizabeth Thabethe said it is necessary to mobilise compliance in regulating the liquor industry.

"As government, we have a responsibility to create better livelihoods through job creation such as manufacturing, distribution and retail of liquor," she said on Monday.

She said government recognised that people had the right to make choices in choosing a trade but that strict and rigid regulation was practised when coming to the liquor sector.

The department participates in combatting substance abuse in partnership with provincial liquor authorities by developing a strategy to reduce the impact of irresponsible use. The priority areas included in the strategy are reducing the availability of alcohol and managing alcohol advertising, among other things.

"Our goal with this campaign is to bring to light that [liquor] licenses are not issued at the expense of consumers that choose not to drink," she said, calling on communities to make it their business to ensure that people are protected from irresponsible trading.

"We need the liquor industry, those that are registered and licensed holders, to comply with the conditions as stipulated in their certificates. We need them to be responsible to understand that business is not about profits only but that they have a responsibility towards all South Africans; that their products comply with specifications and distributions models are of such a nature that liquor is not distributed to retailers that are not registered and that liquor is not sold to children and pregnant women," explained Thabethe.

She called on the public to not promote unlicensed outlets, and that licenses are not issued to taverns located near schools or churches.

"We don't want to give licenses to people [as if] we don't care," said the deputy minister. 

Thabethe said taverns were not the only job creators. According to the department, the industry contributes around R94.2 billion to the economy. R9 billion is lost due to poor productivity, injuries and damage to property as well as absenteeism.

The campaign under the theme "Our business, our patriots, our responsibility" will run from today until Friday.

Zodwa Ntuli, the deputy director general at the dti, said the reckless abuse of alcohol does not only result in personal problems for individuals but also for the economy.

"Just look at casualties attended to as a result of alcohol abuse. They are a cost to the state. Instead of spending money on developing this country, we spend a lot of money on dealing with the results and consequences of alcohol. It is not uncool to be sober," she said.

Ray Eberlein from the Central Drug Authority, which is a statutory body tasked with planning and coordinating measures for the prevention and combating of drug abuse, said the authority is in support of the campaign. He added that the abuse of alcohol and dagga, among other substances, was happening at a young age.

The National Liquor Authority's Vuyeye Segooa said 16 schools in four provinces had been visited to discuss alcohol abuse.

Adrian Botha of the Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, which represents the liquor industry, said the body also supports the campaign. - BuaNews

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