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More alcohol restrictions are being advocated for in South Africa, including smaller bottles and higher costs.

Reference: Published by Staff Writer (BusinessTech), 8 September 2023

South Africans enjoy alcoholic beverages, with half of the population drinking alcohol at some time in any given month, but health experts say this is a major worry that necessitates considerable adjustments in the pricing, advertising, and availability of these beverages.

According to the most recent Eighty20 research on consumption and spending in South Africa, the country ranks fifth in the world in terms of per capita consumption of alcohol.

According to the survey, men use more alcohol than women, with 62% drinking some type of alcohol weekly or monthly, compared to 36% of women.

The South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has stated that this must change. According to Professor Charles Parry of the SAMRC, alcohol misuse is the sixth leading cause of mortality and disability in the country.

He went on to say that the measured consumption per capita in South Africa is five drinks per drinker per day, and that many people don’t drink this much, implying that others are drinking even more.

According to study, if every person in the country drank at a moderate or intermediate level, they would only drink around 32% of the amount of alcohol that we currently consume.

Apart from societal and economic factors, Parry believes that South Africa has a drinking problem because alcohol is too cheap, advertising is aggressive, and it is too widely available (typically supplied at unregulated outlets 24 hours a day).

Parry stated that industry stakeholders believe that education is the best approach to handle these concerns, but he believes that they should just stop producing so much alcohol.

For example, he claims that South African brewers have adequate production capacity to offer four 330ml cans of beer to every beer drinker in the country every day.

“This is a substantial amount, and it’s unnecessary,” Parry added. He went on to say that the same is true for the wine sector, where there is a surplus of supply, including big amounts sold for very low prices.

Parry also stated that the size of the bottles in which beverages are marketed and how alcoholic beverages are advertised ought to be changed.

“Research has found that when people drink out of larger containers, they tend to drink more over the course of an occasion,” he explained.

Furthermore, he stated that tougher marketing laws are required, noting that alcohol should never be sold in a romanised manner, such as signifying success. “We can’t leave it up to the industry to fix it,” he said.

As a result, Parry believes the industry should refrain from opposing the health authority’s and government’s efforts to limit the harm caused by drinking, which should include:

  • Price rises; 
  • tighter advertising controls; and 
  • alcohol availability restrictions.

“A good example is the Covid-19 pandemic, where alcohol control resulted in significant savings in lives and trauma, as well as taxpayer money in hospitals.”

“The only thing that comes from industry pushback is onerous court battles that cost all of us taxpayer monies,” Perry added.

“We frequently see the alcohol industry interfering with policy processes, and this must stop.” “The economic costs of alcohol abuse are likely to far outweigh the economic benefit to the country from the excessive sale of these beverages,” he continued.

According to Perry, the economic costs of alcoholism include lost productivity, death, government medical bills associated with drinking-related injuries, increases in gender-based violence, deterioration of school performance in young drinkers, and its association with mental health issues.

As a result, the SAMRC has urged the government to take extreme measures, including the implementation of new legislation.