'Liquor Products Bill signed into law, but it doesn't tackle SA's booze problem'

© Provided by CapeTalk

  • The Liquor Products Amendment Bill was signed into law earlier this month after five years
  • The Act deals with regulations around the production, packaging, and sale of alcohol products
  • However, alcohol policy expert Maurice Smithers says the Act does not address SA’s binge drinking problem
  • He says strict rules to help curb alcohol consumption are only covered in the long-awaited Liquor Amendment Bill

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President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the 2016 Liquor Products Amendment Bill into law earlier this month which mainly regulates the production, packaging, and sale of alcohol products in South Africa.

While the new legislation has been welcomed by some industry players, other experts are still waiting for the stalled Liquor Amendment Bill to be passed.

Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) director Maurice Smithers says the updated Liquor Products Act deals with alcohol content but it does not deal with the real problem of excessive alcohol consumption in the country.

RELATED: Interest groups propose 5 urgent measures to curb alcohol abuse in SA

Those issues are not going to be dealt with by this Act. They are going to be dealt with by the Liquor Amendment Bill… and that’s also been sitting around for five years… There doesn’t seem to be any movement on it at all… but that’s the one that’s going to change things.

Maurice Smithers, Director – Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance

This is not the holy grail that we are looking for… It’s really more a product-orientated, quality control kind of Act.

Maurice Smithers, Director – Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance

It’s very important but it’s not going to actually change the drinking habits of the country because most of the challenges we have around alcohol are people consuming totally legitimately produced liquor products from the big companies like SA Breweries, Distell, and so on.

Maurice Smithers, Director – Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance

Smithers says binge drinking and other alcohol-related harms are only regulated under the long-awaited Liquor Amendment Bill which is still far from becoming law.

The Liquor Amendment Bill explores measures such as limiting alcohol advertising, increasing the legal drinking age, restricting trading hours, and other interventions.

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