Lawmakers in Uganda are ready to introduce a new alcohol bill to parliament, the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2016.

The proposed law, drafted by a group of lawmakers led by Mukono Municipality MP Betty Nambooze (DP), intends to consolidate all alcoholic-related laws and set tougher sanctions on alcohol consumption by, among others, creating national, district, and sub-county licencing and regulation committees.

The new bill addresses some of the so-called alcohol policy best buys – that independent scientific evidence shows to be cost-effective and impactful in reaching overall consumption and alcohol harm:

  1. Ban of alcohol advertising
  2. Decrease of alcohol availability

MP Nambooze’s Bill is inspired by Kenya’s Alcohol Drinks Control Act from 2010 – that has proven to be cost-effective and high-impact in reducing and preventing alcohol harm in Kenya. Its purpose is to promote public health and development in the country.

Parliament’s legal officer John Tamale said there is a need to amend the current laws because penalties were not punitive and regulations on advertising or even on manufacturing were lacking.

New bill for banning alcohol ads

The Nambooze Bill seeks to ban advertisement of alcohol, just like Unganda already did with tobacco.

Alcohol harm is an obstacle to achieving 12 out of the 17 new Sustainable Development Goals. And evidence shows that alcohol marketing is part of causing these high levels of harm.

For instance, exposure to alcohol marketing makes minors start using alcohol earlier and if they already do, consume more. The alcohol industry is investing heavily in aggressive and pervasive alcohol marketing campaigns in Uganda and the whole region of East Africa.

New bill for decreasing alcohol availability

The new bill stipulates that sale of alcohol before 5pm and after 1am is set to be outlawed.

The Bill provides that “the sale of alcohol shall also not be to persons under the age of 18 and, therefore, an offence for a person to purchase an alcoholic drink for another person he or she knows or has reason to believe is below eighteen years of age or to allow an underage person to access premises where alcoholic beverages are stored, sold or consumed. The punishment will be 10 years in prison or Shs20m or both.”

MP Betty Nambooze and other Ugandan law makers were inspired by constituents and civil society who have been expressing concern about health and social harm related to unregulated alcohol. Ms Nambooze was joined at the launch of the campaign by more than eight MPs. The campaign is facilitated by several civil society organizations led by Uganda Alcohol Policy Alliance (UAPA), where a number of IOGT International Member Organizations are Active – sobriety, friendship and peace contributors.

We want to make it extremely hard for students at higher institutions of learning to access alcohol. So, we want all bars to be outside these institutions and there should be no sale of alcohol at guild canteens because those who don’t [use alcohol] outnumber those who [do consume alcohol].”

The lawmakers are yet to table the bill in parliament. They have, however, worked overtime to be ready to proceed as quickly as possible when the Speaker authorises them to move the draft legislation aimed at regulating the manufacture, advertisement, sale, supply and consumption of alcohol.