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S AFRICA: Industry fears mount over alcohol advertising ban

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A group representing South Africa's alcohol producers has spoken out after it emerged the government is pressing ahead with plans to ban alcohol advertising in the country.

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Local reports earlier this week claimed that a draft bill laying out the controversial plans will be submitted to South Africa's cabinet by the end of the year. A separate bill, which will raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21, is also due to be submitted. 

Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, who is leading the plans, was cited in the reports as saying: "Alcohol remains the most common primary drug of choice across the country and it results in risks, including accidents, injuries, teenage pregnancies, as well as unprotected sexual behaviour which leads to HIV transmission.” 

But, the plans are facing fierce opposition from South's Africa's alcohol industry. Adrian Botha, a director at the Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, which represents major alcohol producers, branded the plans "illogical".

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks today, Botha said the ban on advertising would "remove freedom of choice, and have an impact on the advertising industry and sports sponsorship". He added: "It's illogical because you are not addressing the problem among 13- to 14-year-olds."

Other measures could still include a levy on the alcohol industry, raising alcohol taxes and reducing availability of alcohol. 

The full range of proposals were first unveiled around 18 months ago. Botha said: "It was the most draconian piece of legislation I've seen in my life. Everything bar prohibiton was tabled." 

He added: "We are trying to convince the government, rather than fight them. We need a balanced outcome and fully support any effective measures, but we cannot see any postive outcomes from these proposals." 

A spokesperson for SABMiller, the largest brewer in South Africa, told just-drinks that the company "shares the concerns of society and government around the abuse of alcohol". 

"Rather than imposing restrictions on licensing, alcohol advertising, increasing consumption age limits and raising taxes on alcohol, which have largely failed to have the desired results internationally, SAB believes that the more effective way to address alcohol abuse is through targeted interventions focusing on those drinking patterns that are associated with harm," the spokeperson added. 

"Proven approaches include improved education, good enforcement and strong self-regulation. These are approaches that SAB seeks to drive through its on-going alcohol strategy."


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