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Rhodes University contributes to discussions on liquor regulation

Date Released: Fri, 2 June 2017 13:04 +0200

A team from the Critical Studies in Sexualities and Reproduction (CSSR) made their way to the Eastern Cape Liquor Board’s Provincial Liquor Industry Summit on 5 March 2017. The main aim of the Summit was to afford the opportunity to stakeholders to provide input into the amendment of the Eastern Cape Liquor Act (No. 10 of 2003). The Department of Trade and Industry produced a new national Liquor Amendment Bill last year, which is currently in draft form and open for comment.  The Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, presented the new bill in person at the Summit. While the new bill focuses on the regulation of the liquor industry, the Summit also had a broader focus including discussions on what the provincial government should do to tackle the rising rate of alcohol abuse in the Eastern Cape. It was argued that there is a serious need for developing a well-co-ordinated policy framework.

CSSR/ISER doctoral student, Ulandi du Plessis, and Prof Charles Young, Head of the Psychology Department, went to present their report, Harm Reduction Strategies in Alcohol Use and Abuse: A Critical Review of Interventions which provided an overview of evidence on the effectiveness of the various harm reduction strategies available for implementation. In their paper, they emphasised the need to do a thorough interrogation of the various interventions available, and to consider their unintended consequences. The paper was well received by the participants with a range of questions being posed to the presenters. Members of the Eastern Cape Liquor Board, which organised the Summit, expressed their appreciation of the information contained in the paper.

The main discussion of the Summit revolved around whether the benefits of the liquor industry – such as the provision of employment and revenue – outweighs the consequences – easy access to alcohol, binge drinking, crime, violence, accidents and various non-communicable diseases. The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, did not believe it does, and provided a spirited presentation on the dangers of an unregulated liquor industry. The minister was particularly concerned with how liquor advertising encourages young people to drink. While the Eastern Cape does not have the highest rate of alcohol consumption in the country, the costs associated with alcohol abuse in the province is estimated around R6 billion, while the industry contributes approximately R3.1 billion to the provincial economy. Liquor industry representatives defended the industry, arguing that the benefits it brings outweighs the costs, and that the problem lies with law enforcement, especially with the eradication of illicit alcohol sales.

Apart from Ministers Aaron Motsoaledi and Rob Davies, other presenters included the MEC of the Eastern Cape Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT), Sakhumzi Somyo, the head of DEDEAT, Bongani Gxilishe, various representatives of industry and civil society, and presenters from Eastern Cape universities. The presentations are to be made available for viewing on the Eastern Cape Liquor Board website. The rest of the summit was dedicated to discussions on how to promote the industry in the province, what should be included in the legislative framework, what compliance and enforcement mechanisms are needed, and what measures can be implemented to reduce the harms and social ills produced by alcohol consumption in the province. Members of the CSSR team – Sbongile Matebese, Nontozamo Tsetse and Nicola Jearey Graham – assisted the ECLB by taking notes of the discussions.

The CSSR has an ongoing relationship with the ECLB. The CSSR is currently running three related projects to address the dearth of research on alcohol use during pregnancy in the Eastern Cape. The first project involves ascertaining baseline indicators for drinking during pregnancy in the Eastern Cape which includes the facilitation of a FASfacts intervention. The second project serves to gather qualitative data on the micro-level and macro-level networks that enhance alcohol use or support abstinence during pregnancy. The third project involves collecting qualitative data that could enhance the FASfacts intervention as well as an assessment of the intervention.

By Ulandi du Plessis

References and external links

Matzopoulos, R G, Truen, S, Bowman, B, & Corrigall, J. (2014). The cost of harmful alcohol use in South Africa. SAMJ: South African Medical Journal, 104(2), 127-132. Retrieved March 14, 2017, from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0256-95742014000200023&lng=en&tlng=en

Ellis, Estelle (2013) “Alcohol abuse costs East Cape R6bn: Bill to ban booze advertising attracts widespread approval”, The Herald, 23 Sept 2013.Eastern Cape Liquor Board (2013) “Research findings on Socio-economic impact of liquor abuse” in News on March 14, 2013. http://www.eclb.co.za/eastern-cape-liquor-board-releases-research-findings-on-socio-economic-impact-of-liquor-abuse-in-the-province/

Eastern Cape Liquor Act (No. 10 of 2003): http://www.dedea.gov.za/Economic%20Development%20Legislation/EC%20Provincial%20Liquor%20Act%20number%2010%20of%202003.pdf

Liquor Amendment Bill (2016): http://www.gov.za/documents/liquor-amendment-bill-draft-30-sep-2016-0000

Eastern Cape Liquor Board website: www.eclb.co.za

FASfacts website: http://www.fasfacts.org.za/

Source:Ulandi du Plessis