The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has been taken to the Supreme Court of Ghana and faces time pressure to file its defense in a suit brought against FDA alcohol marketing limits.

The FDA’s directives discourage the use of celebrities in the promotion of alcoholic beverages via any medium.

This policy forms part of the efforts by the government in Ghana to protect children and young people from alcohol marketing.

But the plaintiff ignores this reality and argues that the child protection measure would rob the entertainment industry of potential streams of income.

In the writ issued on November 11, the plaintiff, Mark Darlington Osae said those areas of the FDA’s 2015 regulations are tantamount to discrimination on grounds of economic status, and occupation among others.

The artist, manager, and music publisher is thus asking the Supreme Court to render as unconstitutional the guidelines which stipulate that, “No well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising.” Mr Darlington Osae is the Chairman and Co-Founder of Ghana Music Alliance.

The FDA banned Ghanaian celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages in 2015. According to the regulator, the ban was in adherence to a World Health Organisation policy.

Since the introduction of the child protection provision in the FDA guidelines, some celebrities have tried to attack it. This is not the first time this law has caused a stir in the entertainment industry. For example, in January 2020, musician Wendy Shay complained that the policy has made her lose valuable deals. And earlier this year, “Sugarcane” hitmaker, Camidoh also campaigned for his colleagues in the industry to unite against the law.

At the same time, people, communities, and civil society welcome and support the guideline provision.

FDA justifies ban on celebrities advertising alcohol

The FDA has justified its directive to ban celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages in the country.

In response to the attack of some celebrities, the Head of the Tobacco and Substance Abuse Department of the FDA, Dr Olivia Boateng indicated that their directive forms part of efforts to ensure that minors are protected from alcohol glamorizations and early initiation of alcohol use.

She added that celebrities should not only think about their financial gains but instead, they should take into consideration the health implications for minors who look up to them, as per CNR reporting.

Evidence has it that when celebrities advertised these brands, the young ones are lured or motivated into using these things. Celebrities are only thinking about the financial gains but on a larger scale, our public health issues should rise above that.”

Dr Olivia Boateng, Head of the Tobacco and Substance Abuse Department, Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)

Already in 2017, Movendi International member organization Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) commended the FDA for introducing a ban on alcohol advertisement.

A statement signed by Mr Labram M. Musah, the Programmes Director of VALD, and a member of the International Board of Movendi International since October 2022, said the FDA was bold and courageous, and that it was long overdue for the FDA to help reduce the exposure and alcohol use, especially among children.

It said the uncontrolled advertisement of alcohol had led to exposing children and young people to alcohol, which harms their health and development.

Government, policy and decision makers must leave a legacy that put children, the youth and future generations first and not to jeopardize their future with devastating health consequences – they will certainly not forgive us.”

Labram M. Musah, Programmes Director, VALD

Mr Musah is one of the outstanding voices for community concerns about alcohol marketing in general and celebrity alcohol promotions in particular. Civil society and community-based organizations have, for example, successfully campaigned to limit alcohol advertisement to from 6a.m to 8p.m in Ghana.

Mr Musah emphasized, as per The New Times reporting, the importance for parents and communities to see their children protected from celebrities and online personalities advertising any alcoholic beverage in Ghana.

For further reading

Download the FDA GUIDELINES FOR THE ADVERTISEMENT OF FOODS with the specific requirements for alcohol

Source Website: Joy Online