The Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use (ARA) has appealed to government to balance the need to tackle the misuse of alcohol and public health concerns with the “significant” economic implications of an outright ban on alcohol advertising in South Africa.
ARA’s plea comes in the wake of news that health minister Aaron Motsoaledi will table the proposed Control of Marketing of Alcohol Bill at a cabinet meeting tomorrow [18 September 2013]. The bill, in its current form, bans all forms of alcohol advertising, sponsorship and promotions.
The organisation said it recognises the harm caused by alcohol abused and is standing ready to work with government on programmes to balance is social and health impact.
“Up to now, the department of health has made it impossible for the alcohol industry to engage on any matter relating to the proposed Bill. We have made numerous efforts to meet with the department to present our proposals to no avail.
“Government always encourages stakeholder participation on all public policy matters affecting our communities and we hope that cabinet will ensure that inputs to alcohol policy will not be treated any different,” the organisation said in a statement.
As an interested party, ARA has concrete proposals to address the key concerns about alcohol misuse including:
– the risk of exposure of children to alcohol marketing messages;
– using ‘glamorous content’ that may create false illusions about the effect of alcohol amongst the youth; and
– the need to better enforce and track the overall volume and/or frequency of advertising in various media.
ARA said government and South Africans could not afford to ignore latest empirical research that shows that the ban of alcohol advertising will undermine almost 12 000 permanent jobs. Such a significant job cut runs contrary to the job creation objective of the National Development Plan, which the alcohol industry and the rest of business fully support.
The advertising ban will further see some significant loss of sponsorship for sports development (R4.3billion) and arts and culture (R394million). Broadcast media (TV and radio) is expected to lose R1.4billion followed by the print media (newspapers and magazines) at R96.3million while outdoor (billboards) advertising revenue will also drop by R96million. (Source: Economic Impact Assessment of an Advertising Ban on Alcoholic Beverages, Econometrix, March 2013)
“All these issues should be discussed objectively and in consultation with everyone involved”, ARA said