Thoughts on the Liquor Amendment Bill
South Africa there are major changes coming our way on where, by who an dhow alcohol is distributed and marketed in the country soon.
For a number of years there have been public discussions, consultations and proposals on amending South Africa’s laws on the sale, advertising and distribution of alcohol to the public. In February and March of 2018 the government of South Africa has the proposed changes to the Liquor Bill and is in before parliament for discussion and voting and possibly be passed into law within weeks.
The proposed changes to the Liquor Bill include the limiting of advertising of liquor products in all forms of media especially television, increasing the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 and the prohibition on the location of liquor outlets by up to 500 metres away from places such as schools, places of worship, rehabilitation and treatment centres, residential areas and recreational spaces.
The changes are seemed to be aimed at curbing the promotion of alcohol as South Africa is a well-known country for its high alcohol consumption and the effects that drinking has on the society such as drunk driving and the accidents and resultants deaths thereof.
Drinking also has serious health implications especially financial costs which affect the country. It is estimated that alcohol related health and crime incidents cost South Africa an estimated 5% of the total health spending by government which amounts to billions of Rands.
Underage drinking is also a major societal issue that faces South Africa and society has taken steps in order to resolve these issues. Research by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) has researched and made a report which states that young people who are exposed to alcohol whether be it in their surrounding community and social spheres and from the media are likely to start drinking earlier in their lives, drink more and binge drink.
NEDLAC found that reducing the amount of advertising alcohol and increasing the legal drinking age could decrease the consumption of alcohol of individuals aged between 15 years and older by between 3.2%- 7.4%.
Another change to the Liquor Law is that companies that make alcohol could be held legally responsible for branded products in unlicensed outlets and for damages caused by any individual consumer while under the influence of alcohol.
By removing liquor outlets from nearby places such as and importantly schools and recreational places, churches and residential areas can make access by young individuals harder for them. By prohibiting the numbers of easily accessible alcohol outlets this can help decrease the number of public drinking and intoxication incidents where children and other vulnerable people can be exposed to alcohol and risk behaviour associated with drinking. This can help create safe and alcohol free zones and communities for people and create increase the number and visibility for positive role models and responsible behaviour in communities.
These amendments to the Liquor Bill can and hopefully will create safe and responsible communities where the safety, health and wel-lbeing for individuals can be realised and experienced and where the health and development of people will not be adversely affected by alcohol. We as members of society have to be responsible as to where we and how much we drink and also be responsible towards those we drink around in order to model responsible behaviour and Ubuntu.
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The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily the views of the organisation but that of the author and referred sources.