Ladies and Gentlemen of the media,
On Wednesday, 18 September 2013, Cabinet approved that the Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill should be gazetted for public comment. The intention of the Bill is to reduce the exposure to the advertising and promotion of alcohol.
The harmful use of Alcohol has significant negative impacts on individuals, families, communities, the economy and the country as a whole.
The State has a responsibility to protect the health and well-being of all South Africans. Section 27 of the Constitution requires the state takes reasonable legislative and other measures to protect the health and wellbeing of everyone.
Research indicates that alcohol advertising influences behaviour negatively. It fosters positive beliefs about drinking and encourages young people to drink alcohol sooner and in great quantities. A study of 20 countries over 26 years found that alcohol advertising bans do decrease the consumption of alcohol.
A Lancet review of effectiveness of interventions to reduce alcohol-related harm lists comprehensive advertising ban on alcohol as one of the three most effective methods to reduce alcohol-related harm.
The position that restrictions on marketing is an effective mechanism for reducing alcohol harm is also taken in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful use of Alcohol and the Global Status Report on Non-communicable Diseases 2010, and the WHO Regional Strategy for the “Reduction of the harmful use of alcohol: a strategy for the WHO African Region.”
Currently alcohol advertising is regulated by the Liquor Act 59 of 2003 where guidelines for liquor advertising are outlined. 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.
Notwithstanding, alcohol advertising still glamorises and encourages the use of a product that causes serious harm to individuals and to society and, despite claims from the industry that children and youth are not targeted, international research indicates that advertising does influence child and youth behaviour.
This Bill was drafted on the basis of all this evidence. Inputs were also received from experts involved in the drafting of the Tobacco Control (1993) and Tobacco Control Amendment (2008) Acts.
The regulatory impact assessment indicated that a comprehensive approach is the preferred option.
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.
These measures are considered to be the best available measures and are recommended; by inter alia the World Health Organisation and their efficacy are supported by numerous scientific studies as the most effective interventions.
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.
Costs to the country of alcohol related harm
Alcohol consumption in South Africa results in significant morbidity and mortality, increases violence, crime and road traffic crashes, has major consequences for individuals, families and communities and impacts negatively on education and the economy.
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 tangible cost is twice what government receives from excise tax and VAT on alcohol combined. 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, this should be more than the offset by government saving from reduction in alcohol related harm.
While the regulatory impact assessment presents economic impact data, it is critical not to reduce alcohol-related harm purely to economics. If this is done it diminishes the personal pain and suffering that is experienced by many South Africans in terms of unnecessary deaths and disability, violence (especially domestic violence), family and community disruptions, educational disadvantages, physical and mental illness and (for many) a spiral into poverty as a result of harmful use of alcohol.
It is also difficult to quantify economically the damage for example to the image of the country that levels of violence (much of which is related to alcohol) has, and how this impacts on investment, tourism and so on.
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.
From a health perspective South Africa faces a quadruple burden of disease consisting of a maturing and generalised HIV and AIDs epidemic and high levels of Tuberculosis, high maternal and child morbidity and mortality; non-communicable diseases and violence and injuries. In each of the major disease areas alcohol is either a critical primary risk factor and/or contributes negatively to the course of the disease/ health predicament.
Alcohol is the third leading risk factor for death and disability in South Africa – after unsafe sex/STIs 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%).
The South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys of 2002 and 2008 showed that binge drinking in a particular month amongst South African children aged 12 to 18 had increased from 23% to 29% from 2002 to 2008.
Data on non-natural deaths in South Africa for 2008 indicated that 61% people who died as a result of violence, 41% of suicide and 56% of transport related deaths had positive blood alcohol levels. Around 70% of domestic violence has been associated with alcohol.
The World Health Organisation has found that public education is a weak approach in the absence of complementary policies that seek to reduce demand for alcohol and that actively regulates the supply of the product as well.
Banning of tobacco marketing in South Africa a number of years ago resulted in reduced consumption patterns and there is little reason to doubt that this will also be true with regard to alcohol marketing.
Objects of the Bill
The Bill seeks to contribute to the reduction of alcohol related harm and the protection of public health and community well-being by limiting the exposure of the public to alcohol marketing by –
a) Restricting the advertisement of alcoholic beverages
b) Prohibiting any sponsorship associated with alcoholic beverages (excluding donations), and
c) Prohibiting any promotion of alcoholic beverages
While there are differences between tobacco and alcohol there are also obvious similarities between the objectives of this Bill and those of the Tobacco Products Control Act, 1993 (Act No. 83 of 1993), as amended by the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act, 2008 (Act No. 63 of 2008). This Bill must be dealt with in terms of the same principles.
- the restriction of the advertising of alcoholic beverages; exceptions include:
- pricelists in licensed and registered premises
- notices inside registered premises
- name, address and logo on delivery vehicles
- the prohibition of sponsorship associated with alcohol. However a manufacturer or importer may make a charitable financial contribution or sponsorship provided this is not for the purpose of advertisement and is not associated with any brand name.
- the prohibition of free distribution and reward of alcohol.
Government is determined to reduce the harm associated with alcohol use. Government is confident that this Bill, together with other measures, will reduce alcohol related harm in South Africa and take citizens closer to the realisation of a healthier wellbeing.
The Department of Social Development through its program “Taking DSD to Communities” has found that South Africans have been waiting for government to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol. We are calling on all South Africans to participate when the public comments begin.
I thank you
Enquiries: Lumka Oliphant
Spokesperson: Social Development Department
Cell: 083 484 8067