Letter to the Editor: Response to " Cabinet in disarray over bill banning alcohol adverts"

Dear Sir

I write in reference to the article “Cabinet in disarray over bill banning alcohol adverts” by Carol Paton on October 16 and the subsequent comment by David Gleason “Futile and costly to ban alcohol ads” on October 18.

As noted in the first article, the draft Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill is three years in the making with extensive research and debate generated on its cost and impact ahead of formulation. Paton and Gleason both make reference to the cost to the industry. Neither examines the existing cost to the country as a result of the harmful use of alcohol.

There is more to the alcohol draft bill than a future cost. There is an existing cost that all taxpayers - whether they indulge or not - end up paying.

Alcohol is the third biggest cause of premature death in South Africa, killing an estimated 130 South Africans a day. Furthermore, over 50% of interpersonal violence fatalities and more than 70% of injuries have been found to be fuelled by alcohol. Government estimates that the ‘tangible’ cost to the country of alcohol related harm across government departments have been estimated at around R38-billion while research indicates that the intangible costs could be as high as R240-billion. That is far in excess of the R4,4-billion cost that Gleason cites.

The bill seeks to limit alcohol related harm and the protect public health and community well-being by limiting the exposure of the public to alcohol marketing.  It does not mean, as Gleason claims, that the name of your favourite brand will be replaced with a standardised manufacturer’s identity.

South Africa’s moves are also 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 the most cost effective methods to reduce alcohol-related harm.

Soul City supports the government in its efforts to reduce the harmful impact of alcohol and urges that the draft bill be published for comment as soon as possible.

This letter was posted in response to: http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/2013/10/16/cabinet-in-disarray-over-bill-banning-alcohol-adverts

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