Govt determined to reduce harm caused by alcohol

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Pretoria - Government is determined to reduce the harm associated with alcohol use, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini announced on Friday.

“Government is determined to reduce the harm associated with alcohol use and through our programme ‘Taking DSD (Department of Social Development) to communities’ we found that South Africans have been waiting for government to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol,” she said.

Addressing reporters in Johannesburg on Friday, Dlamini said government is confident that the Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill will reduce alcohol related harm in South Africa and take citizens closer to the realisation of a healthier wellbeing.

On Wednesday, 18 September, Cabinet approved that the Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill should be gazetted for public comment. The Minister urged all South Africans to participate when the public comments begin.

The Bill seeks to reduce the exposure to the advertising and promotion of alcohol and was drafted on the basis of all this evidence.

“This Bill deals with one of the recommended strategies, namely measures to control the advertising and marketing of alcohol.

“Other measures have also been considered by the Inter-ministerial Committee on Alcohol and Substance abuse and will also be implemented as part of an integrated strategy to reduce alcohol related harm,” she said.

The Minister said inputs were also received from experts involved in the drafting of the Tobacco Control (1993) and Tobacco Control Amendment (2008) Acts.

She said the harmful use of Alcohol has significant negative impacts on individuals, families, communities, the economy and the country as a whole.

Currently alcohol advertising is regulated by the Liquor Act 59 of 2003 and there is also currently ‘self-regulation’ of advertising of alcohol products through a Code of Commercial Communication of Alcohol Beverages which was drawn up by the Association for Responsible Alcohol User and which most companies and advertisers adhere to.

Despite claims from the industry that children and youth are not targeted, international research indicates that advertising does influence child and youth behaviour.

“The regulatory impact assessment indicated that a comprehensive approach is the preferred option,” she said.

The public health approach gives a range of measures such as alcohol pricing, control on alcohol marketing, stricter controls on the time and places where alcohol can be sold, policy measures to discourage the sale of alcohol to teenagers and children, measures to reduce drunk driving and public education to reduce the harmful use of alcohol.

Cost to country of alcohol related harm

The ‘tangible’ cost to the country of alcohol related harm across government departments have been estimated at around R38 billion while research indicates that the intangible costs could be as high as R240 billion.

The Minister said the cost is twice what government receives from excise tax and VAT on alcohol combined.

She further said: “It can be argued that less sales of alcohol brought about by advertising bans will reduce government revenue in terms of both excise tax and Value Added Tax.”

However, she said this should be more than the offset by government saving from reduction in alcohol related harm.

“Alcohol consumption in South Africa results in significant morbidity and mortality, increases violence, crime, road traffic crashes and has major consequences for individuals, families and communities and impacts negatively on both education and the economy.

“Alcohol is not an ordinary commodity; it is a dependence producing substance which can result in addiction.

“The gains in preventing health harms from addiction and alcohol abuse to future generations are difficult to quantify,” she said.

Alcohol is the third leading risk factor for death and disability in South Africa – after unsafe sex and interpersonal violence and injury. Alcohol is responsible for around 130 deaths every day.

The largest proportion of alcohol’s effect arises through its linkage with intentional and unintentional injuries (41% of the burden attributed to alcohol), followed by infectious diseases, such as TB and HIV (32%), non-communicable diseases (13%) and neuropsychiatric disorders (12%). - SAnews.gov.za

 

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