LETTER: Maphai way off mark

Dr Vincent Maphai, South African Breweries executive director of corporate affairs and transformation, appears to be misleading Parliament shamelessly

Dr Vincent Maphai, South African Breweries executive director of corporate affairs and transformation, appears to be misleading Parliament shamelessly (Department uneasy on alcohol adverts ban, October 30).

To say to MPs on Tuesday that only 8% of drinkers abuse alcohol is unbelievable. It is well established through research that a quarter to a third of drinkers drink at problematic levels in SA. For too long, the industry has been getting away with framing the issue of alcohol as a problem linked to a "tiny community of irresponsible alcohol users" who abuse their products and who just need to toe the line.

Not only is the problem three to four times worse than Dr Maphai admits, but the causal factors involve not only the behaviour of individual drinkers, but also corporate actions.

In the light of such ignorance at best, or deception at worst, we clearly cannot take industry views on how best to address problem drinking in SA too seriously. In particular, we should not continue to rely on industry selfregulation of advertising to the extent we do.

Prof Charles Parry
Director: MRC Alcohol & Drug Abuse Research Unit

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