Tighten restriction to 21

2011-03-18 00:00

THE Substance Abuse summit that ended in Durban yesterday urged the government to tighten restrictions on alcohol.

Participants signed a declaration pledging to ensure the implementation of resolutions that included raising the legal age for the purchasing and public consumption of alcohol to 21; restricting alcohol sale days and times, imposing stricter licensing laws and qualifying criteria on liquor outlets, including shebeens, taverns and liquor stores, and restricting the number of liquor outlets in specific geographical areas. No liquor outlets should be located near schools, libraries and places of worship.

Among other proposals are raising duties and taxes on alcohol and increasing criminal and administrative liability of individuals and institutions that sell alcohol to underage drinkers, intoxicated patrons and patrons whom they know will drive.

In terms of advertising, the resolutions included the banning of all sponsorship by the alcohol industry for sports, recreation, arts and cultural events and “immediate implementation of current laws and regulations that permit the restriction of the time, location and content of advertising related to alcohol and in the medium term banning of all advertising of alcoholic products in public and private media, including electronic media. The short term intervention will include measures that will ensure that alcohol will not be marketed at times and locations where young people may be influenced and the content of the advertising should not portray alcohol as a product associated with sport, and social and economic status”. Also, public service events should ensure that all functions are alcohol free.

It is not going to be easy, but like the public smoking laws were implemented, we will do this, said the Minister of Correctional Services, Nosiviwe Mephisa-Naqkula. She noted that one of the biggest problems was alcoholics in the public service, giving a metro police and a teacher found drunk on duty in the morning as examples and the biggest challenge is denial by those already addicted. Quoting President Jacob Zuma, she concluded, “We will not allow the scourge to destabilise our nation.”

The declaration was signed by Mephisa-Nqukula; the Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; MEC of Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo and various sectors such as the youth sector, the business sector, and the NGO sector.

The resolution of the summit will be drafted and opened for further comments from the public until a consensus is reached.





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