World No Alcohol Day: SA needs effective legislation to curb booze-related harm

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the extent of the problem, and it became clear that there was a need for more effective legislative measures to reduce alcohol-related harm.

SAAPA has called for more effective measures from government to address the high levels of alcohol-related harm. Picture: 123rf

CAPE TOWN – The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance has called for more effective measures from government to address the high levels of alcohol-related harm in the country.

Friday, 2 October marked World No Alcohol Day.

The organisation said the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the extent of the problem, and it became clear that there was a need for more effective legislative measures to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Director Maurice Smithers said: “We saw the impact of the ban and the restriction. The levels of harm have been reduced by the ban and the restrictions. It is quite clear that if we had better legislation, we could actually reduce alcohol-related harm, permanently.”

Smithers said government needs to act swiftly on implementing the 2016 liquor policy which was adopted by cabinet.

“The Liquor Amendment Bill which was written in 2016 as well; we are pushing hard for that to be passed and, if possible, to pass this year before the end of the State of Disaster – so we enter the post-COVID phase without having a return to those levels of alcohol-related harm that we had before.”

He adds the recommendations in the bill include increasing the drinking age from 18 to 21, and new restrictions on advertising.

“It will attempt to ensure that liquor outlets are not too close to community facilities like schools and community centres. It will also strengthen the requirement that you don’t sell liquor to people that are already intoxicated – that’s a big problem.”

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