African nations and even other developing nations have and are still suffering from the effects caused by multinational companies with their immoral alcohol marketing. Alcohol consumption is a driving force of social, economic, health and democratic harm to societies around the world and especially in low- and middle income countries.

But for the global alcohol industry alcohol marketing is a vital tool to promote sales and make young people start using alcohol earlier and mores and thus it is clearly paying off to them at the expenses to societies, like South Africa, or Kenya or my country Ghana, that suffer from high crime rates, violence, rape, poverty, HIV/AIDS, NCDs – you name it. Yes, it is therefore time for South Africa to take a lead to stop and ban this crime against humanity.

I am delighted to read that the cabinet in South Africa has approved a draft bill banning alcohol advertising.

The extent at which the Big Alcohol lobby machines tend to frustrate bills being passed towards evidence-based alcohol policy has been increasing and become more aggressive over the recent years. African, Asian and European countries are examples for this. Big Alcohol lobbyism, especially against bans on alcohol marketing is a menace to public health and social welfare policy making. This aggressive lobbyism has fuelled the fact that the need to reduce or rather ban the use of the immoral alcohol marketing has not been challenged despite that it has caused untold damage to the society.

Our young ones are often naive and easily influenced by the media. The fact that alcohol advertisements in Africa are available to these children makes it even more dangerous to continue this practice. Allowing alcohol marketing to continue not only increases children’s craving for the substance but leads to an early onset of alcohol use thus leading to problems like driving under the influence of alcohol, accidents, crime, violence, rape, and many other health and social problems. The concept “drink responsibly” is not a functioning term to guide us in this predicament. It’s obvious that Big Alcohol only uses it to undermine real regulation of its practices while knowing fully well that their own codes of conduct, their self-regulation is not working in protecting children and youth.

That is why statutory regulation of marketing, possibly a ban and total stop to this immoral marketing is crucial to effectively prevent advertising agencies and alcohol producers from targeting children and  youth and inciting them both to start using alcohol earlier, establish habits and also to keep those already using alcohol continuously increasing their consumption. In conclusion, alcohol advertising must be banned for the same reason as cigarettes; this is augmented by the fact that alcohol is socially more hazardous and causes more damage to our health, society and family welfare far more than illicit drugs combined.

I will be delighted to see that South Africa will not only have this debate on draft bill banning alcohol advertising as lead by the minister of social development Bathabile Dlamini as a turning point towards a dream come to true.

Despite the economic gains, the South African Social Minister made the claim that  the tangible costs of alcohol and its related problems combined was twice what the government received from excise tax and value added tax from alcohol. Alcohol is the third leading risk factor for death and disability in the country and was responsible for around 130 deaths every day, Dlamini said. So the time has come to act, not to debate on the bill but to act. Welcome onboard South Africa, the gateway for progress, sustainable development and societal development is now open wider than before.