[Press release] Alcohol group demands ad spend details

Alcohol policy group Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) is steadfast in its bid to ban alcohol advertising, and has challenged the alcohol industry to disclose its exact expenditure on advertising and sponsorships.

The organisation has been lobbying for the Liquor Amendment Bill, which seeks to ban alcohol ads in broadcasting media and also raise the legal drinking age to 21. The bill is before the cabinet for debate.

In a statement, Saapa called on the alcohol industry to be transparent: “It would be more useful than the endless rhetoric of how much the country stands to lose if alcohol advertising were to be banned.

“The constant claim that there will be a dramatic loss of revenue amounts to scaremongering and an effort to bully government out of doing its job.”

According to a 2013 report by research company Econometrix, there would be a R4.38 billion loss in ad revenue.

The SABC could lose half-a-billion rand in ad revenue a year, DSTV could lose R440 million and e.tv would lose R300m, were the ban to go ahead.

Commercial regional radio stations would lose R55.2m and metropolitan radio stations R44.6m.

SA Liquor Brand-Owners Association chairperson Sibani Mngadi said information on ad spend is publicly available.

“I would encourage Saapa to read the report by Econometrix, which details the overall ad spend, value chain and high number of skilled jobs involved,” he said.

Saapa also raised concern with the alcohol industry’s intention to increase its expenditure on awareness campaigns from R10m to R150m.

“This equates to a 1 400% increase compared to their 2016 annual profit before tax of R49bn. One has to wonder why industry is doing this. Information campaigns and education as a strategy are listed as ‘lower-impact intervention’ by the World Health Organisation. Regulating and banning advertising is seen as one of the most effective interventions to decrease alcohol consumption and related harm, together with price increases and interventions to reduce availability, which the National Liquor Act proposes to do,” said Saapa.

Saapa said raising the drinking age limit would reduce consumption by young people aged 15 and older between 3.2% and 7.4%, which equates to over 100000 people in the first two years and 1.2 million after five years.

However, in response Mngadi said the association believed awareness programmes were effective.

“We believe that awareness programmes, targeted harm reduction interventions and effective law enforcement are the best costeffective measures to deal with the problem of alcohol abuse,” he said.

Mngadi said better enforcement of existing laws on drinking and driving could be more effective than the proposed Liquor Amendment Bill.

“Making the declaration of ID a mandatory requirement for purchase of alcohol can directly prevent drinking among the under-18-year-olds, while increasing legal drinking to 21 years with poor enforcement simply increases the pool of people who may be breaking the law,” he said.

He also invited Saapa to recommend programmes that could be considered for funding.

Cape Argus, 16 April 2018