The government of South Africa has made efforts to combat the nation’s significant problem with alcohol abuse by proposing a ban on liquor advertisements. The Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages bill that would ban alcohol ads throughout the country still remains under consideration with much debate as to the impact it would have on the community and the economy. The intention of the bill is to reduce the exposure to the promotion of alcohol and the glamorization of drinking in order to fight the growing instances of abuse. Major alcohol companies are concerned about the possible ban and claim that it would have a devastating impact on South Africa’s economy, media and sport industries. The National Department of Social Development is working to develop new policies to manage the level of alcohol consumption in the country.
Impact of Alcohol Abuse
Officials in South Africa are aware of the high rates of alcohol abuse and drunk driving in the country and the negative impact that these problems have on the nation. The country has one of the highest per capita alcohol consumption rates in the world with over 30% of the population suffering from an alcohol abuse problem. This high rate of alcohol consumption combined with poor public transportation has led to numerous cases of drunk driving accidents. One out of every seven drivers is drunk on the road at night and 60% of road traffic deaths in the country involve alcohol. The negative impact that alcohol has had on South Africa has prompted the government to consider measures that would reduce drinking behavior such as the ban on liquor ads. With research indicating that alcohol advertisements influence positive beliefs about drinking and encourage young people to drink sooner, the South African cabinet is hoping that a restriction on ads and sponsorship could provide part of the solution.
Possible Effect on Economy
The Social Development minister is concerned about the impact that alcohol consumption has had on the South African community including significant morbidity and mortality as well as an increase in violence, crime and traffic accidents. She says that the cost of these alcohol related problems is twice that of what the government receives excise tax and alcohol taxes. Other South African officials are worried about how a ban or restriction on alcohol advertisements would impact the country’s economy. Some believe it would negatively affect the job market especially in the media and sports industries. Opponents of the bill also claim that restricting alcohol advertisements has little to no effect on the amount of alcohol consumption in a community. People can still be reached through internet ads and other digital media that the bill would not have the ability to restrict. Those in favor of the bill say that although the alcohol industry does contribute to the South African economy, the effects of alcohol abuse cost much more to taxpayers.
In addition to the ban on alcohol advertisements, the government is also considering a law to increase the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. Alcohol abuse among young people in South Africa is very common due to the ease with which they can obtain alcohol and the high youth unemployment rates in the country. The minister is hoping to ban alcohol advertisements because they are known to target young people to begin drinking early. With evidence showing that delaying a young person’s first drink can prevent harmful drinking habits, some South African officials are looking to the ban and new drinking age as a way to counter the country’s significant alcohol abuse problems. The bill is still being considered with many disagreements about the effectiveness of the proposed law.