Zuma: government to boost efforts to tackle alcohol, drug abuse

2011-03-16 00:00

ALCOHOL and drug abuse and drug trafficking will receive “renewed and more energetic attention from government”, President Jacob Zuma told the opening ceremony of a summit yesterday.

The the second biennial summit on substance abuse is being held at Durban’s Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre in Durban.

The aim is to find a way to tackle substance abuse, improve programmes and deliberate ways of implementing changes to curb the increasing abuse of alcohol and drugs among South Africans.

The focus will be on five areas: legal enforcement; supply reduction; demand reduction; increasing awareness and education; and increasing access to and improved treatment for addicts and support for their families.

Discussions will guide the National Drug Master Plan (2012-2017).

“The World Health Organisation states that reducing the availability and abuse of alcohol requires steps such as changing the minimum legal purchase age for alcohol and instituting restrictions on hours and days of sale,” Zuma said.

“It also entails instituting restrictions on the number of liquor outlets in an area, increasing excise taxes on alcohol and imposing restrictions on the advertising of alcohol.

“Government has opened a public debate about increasing the legal age for purchasing alcohol to 21 instead of 18. Whatever the outcome of this debate, it should enable us to raise awareness about the need to deal with the problem.”

Police Commissioner General Bheki Cele was applauded when said alcohol regulations need to be tightened and that the police “are going to be hard” on shebeens and drug peddlers.

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Andries Nel said courts and prosecutors will work closely with other departments and ensure that those involved will receive heavy prison sentences.

Zuma said, “We urge residents in affected communities not to hesitate to provide information to the police.”

ACCORDING to a survey and door-to-door campaign before the summit, 56% of respondents understand the problem of substance abuse and 64% of them have problems related to substance abuse in their own homes.

Respondents also recognise drugs to be one of the biggest concerns in their community, second to poverty, and that the most used drug in their community is alcohol, followed by dagga, tobacco and glue.

They also link substance abuse to societal ills such as crime, violence, HIV and Aids, abnormal behaviour and death.

Only 40% of respondents are aware of available resources and how to get help.

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