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Leaks an attempt to sway public - SACC

2012-04-16 20:10

Johannesburg - The leakers of information about a draft bill on alcohol advertising are trying to sway the public and influence the process, the SA Council of Churches (SACC) said on Monday.

"We are aware of how highly contested and emotional the issue of controlling advertisement of alcohol is," SACC general secretary Reverend Mautji Pataki said in a statement.

"[We] would therefore encourage South Africans to act in a more responsible manner and allow the bill to be presented for public comments before engaging its content."

It was reported on Monday that the control of marketing of alcoholic beverages bill, which prohibits the advertising and promotion of alcoholic products, was being reworked behind closed doors by a government task team.

According to the report, the bill, which was prematurely leaked into the public domain, had caused alarm in industry circles because of its heavy-handed approach.

Misleading

Pataki said until discussion on the bill was allowed, the report of a "looming battle" was misleading.

"At the ultimate, we will... have to receive the bill, apply our minds and correct those ills that come up with the high consumption and excessive advertisement of alcohol in our society."

Health department spokesperson Fidel Hadebe said the draft bill regarding alcohol advertising in South Africa was being considered.

"As is the case with all bills, the control of marketing of alcoholic beverages bill will go through various stages of consultation... before it is released for public comment," he said in a statement.

Hadebe said the department wanted to caution the industry against reacting to leaked documents.

"These may, in some instances, be out of touch with the consultation processes which the department remains committed to."

He said Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi had expressed his concern about the impact of alcohol on the public's health.

"The advertising and marketing of alcohol beverages is just one of the many avenues that are being considered as part of addressing this challenge," said Hadebe.