State aims for zero alcohol limit
Johannesburg - New legislation might ban alcohol brands from advertising, place a moratorium on new liquor licenses and make any drinking before driving illegal, Beeld reported on Thursday.
"We need drastic legislation to combat alcohol abuse and to regulate the industry more strictly," Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini told reporters in Johannesburg.
Dlamini and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who was also at the announcement, said their departments would initiate steps to draw up the legislation next year.
A moratorium on liquor licenses would mean no new restaurants would be able to serve alcohol and no new bars could open, the newspaper reported.
The current blood-alcohol limit when driving is 0.05mg per 100ml blood - about two glasses of wine, two shots of hard liquor or two beers. However, the government wanted the legal limit to be reduced to zero.
"A drunk driver that causes someone's death cannot get away with a fine," Dlamini said.
'Message not strong enough'
The Phuza Wize (drink safely) campaign, a partnership between the government and the Soul City project, was launched at the media conference.
Motsoaledi however felt that the campaign's message was not strong enough.
"The message should go further than to tell people to drink responsibly. It ought to be that they should not drink at all."
In response, spokesperson for Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, Adrian Botha, said there was no factual proof that alcohol advertising led to alcohol abuse.
"A ban on alcohol advertising is not the answer. Half of the alcohol that is consumed worldwide is not advertised. The only thing the legislation will achieve is to strengthen famous brand names."
The proposed ban on alcohol advertising could also affect sport sponsorships.
SA Breweries was one of the biggest sports sponsors in the country. The company spent R23m in 2009 for the British and Irish Lions Rugby tour to South Africa. SAB also sponsored cricket and soccer.
SuperSport's head of acquisitions and legal matters Brandon Foot said suggesting a ban of alcohol advertising was not new, but would have a serious effect on sport and supporters.
SAB said in a statement it had teamed up with the social development department to encourage responsible drinking. Spokesperson Vincent Maphai said the alcohol producer believed it had a responsibility to prevent harmful alcohol use.
"Producers are ready to start a partnership with groups and organisations that fight alcohol abuse."