Government WILL introduce restrictions on alcohol advertising; it’s just a question of when it might happen as the issue has now become political.
In a hard-hitting talk last week, Adrian Botha, director of the Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, told media representatives attending the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ presentation in Cape Town that South Africa had been singled out by the World Health Organisation as a country in which a growth in binge drinking was taking place.
He said that the Department of Health had expressed its concerns and was already talking about health warnings on labels. The minister of health was considering advertising bans and banning the sale of alcohol on Sundays. The City of Cape Town’s liquor by-laws proposed a levy on alcohol as well as reduced availability. Gauteng and Limpopo were considering following suit.
The Department of Transport had a proposal be banning outdoor advertising, and there is a move to for a Road Accident Fund surcharge on alcohol. The Department of Trade and Industry (Dti) was researching alcohol advertising and recommendations, and has also commissioned baseline research into the liquor industry. Soul City, an NGO, has suggested a ban on advertising, limited trading, higher taxes and a ban on sponsorships. The ANC Youth League has also backed alcohol restrictions.
“I’m convinced this is being driven by politics,” said Botha. “The Department of Transport wants to ban all outdoor alcohol advertising that is visible from the road. This would include delivery trucks!”
Botha called on media owners to get involved, saying that the withdrawal of alcohol advertising would have a huge economic impact on print media. “Media owners have ignored this thing for 22 years. They will lose advertising overnight if this goes through, and they will feel it economically.
“Why don’t they consider giving us two ads for the price of one? We need to get this stuff out there as it is highly like that there will be restrictions,” Botha said.
He said that the WHO’s Resolution WHA 61.4 was being described as “the most significant review of alcohol policy in 25 years”.
It had recommended policy options and interventions in 10 areas:
1. Leadership, awareness and commitment
2. Health services’ response
3. Community action
4. Drink-driving policies and countermeasures
5. Availability of alcohol
6. Marketing of alcohol beverages
7. Pricing policies
8. Reducing the negative consequences of drinking and alcohol intoxication
9. Reducing the public health impact of illicit alcohol and informally produced alcohol
10. Monitoring and surveillance
In terms of media, the availability of alcohol, the marketing of alcohol and pricing policies would have the most impact. Botha said the industry needed to set up regulatory or co-regulatory frameworks, preferably with a legislative basis,supported when appropriate by self-regulatory measures.
This would include:
•Regulating the content and the volume of marketing
•Regulating direct or indirect marketing in certain or all media
•Regulating sponsorship activities
•Restricting or banning promotions in connection with activities targeting young people
•Regulating new forms of alcohol marketing techniques, for instance social media
2) Development by public agencies or independent bodies of effective systems of marketing of alcohol products
3) Setting up effective administrative and deterrence systems for infringements on marketing restrictions.
Botha added that ARA was focusing on effective self-regulation by member companies, and other alcohol beverage manufacturers, distributors and retailers; partnerships – with government, public health bodies and other relevant stakeholders to combat misuse and abuse; and education – on the nature and risks of alcohol misuse and abuse, and on the responsible use of alcohol beverages.
It’s campaign – Who Says One More Drink Won’t Hurt – had had an impact on consumers. And it’s series, showing adults worse for the wear and setting a bad example for children, had make people sit up and think.