LETTER: Applaud alcohol bill

There is evidence that alcohol advertising increases the likelihood that young people start to drink, and that the overall amount that they drink, and the amount that they drink on one occasion, are greater

I WRITE in reference to the article, "Cabinet in disarray over bill banning alcohol adverts" (October 16) and the subsequent comment by David Gleason, "Futile and costly to ban alcohol ads" (October 18).

There is more to the alcohol draft bill than a future cost to industry. The cost is to all taxpayers. How many citizens — rich or poor — have lost a loved one as a result of drunk driving? How many of us are aware of the link to food intake and being overweight and obese from alcohol? How many pregnant women know of the potential harm from alcohol to their unborn children — that includes mental retardation or learning disabilities?

Alcohol is the third-biggest cause of premature death in South Africa, killing an estimated 130 South Africans a day. Further, over 50% of interpersonal violence fatalities and more than 70% of injuries have been found to be fuelled by alcohol. The loss or harm to breadwinners and caregivers from alcohol results in a vicious cycle of poverty that cannot be understated.

There is evidence that alcohol advertising increases the likelihood that young people start to drink, and that the overall amount that they drink, and the amount that they drink on one occasion, are greater.

No silver bullet exists to address alcohol intake. This move in South Africa is in line with global best practices that support a holistic approach to address alcohol-related harm. A comprehensive alcohol advertising ban is recognised as one of several cost-effective methods to reduce alcohol-related harm. The French example of banning alcohol ads is very telling in a country where the wine industry is part of the national psyche and a key economic asset.

The approach to limit alcohol marketing in South Africa suggests a mature and sophisticated understanding of policy levers and that "best buys for health" can also be found outside the health sector. Instead of being vilified, our government should be commended and encouraged to push forward on this responsible regulation.

Prof Karen Hofman MB BCh, FAAP Director, Priority Cost Effective Lessons for Systems Strengthening, Medical Research Council, Wits Rural Public Health and Health Transitions Unit

This is a page heading

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, qui quem consetetur cu, mucius singulis molestiae eam et. Utinam nominati principes vis ne. Similique theophrastus eu nec, ea fugit impedit mediocritatem sed.