Alcohol abuse in SA: Booze still a big killer – expert
SAB pledges to intensify education on responsible drinking, despite critics who call for effective strategies to combat heavy drinking.
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Alcohol being the fifth-largest risk factor for death and disability in the country, SA Breweries CEO Richard Rivett-Carnac, yesterday recommitted the company to intensifying its public education drive.
This comes against calls by Prof Charles Parry of the SA Medical Research Council, director of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Research Unit, for the industry to do more in addressing alcohol abuse.
Parry said almost six out of 10 drinkers in South Africa engaged in heavy drinking on a monthly basis. “There is an alcohol dependence by many drinkers,” he said.
“In fact, it has been estimated that if South Africans drank at moderate or intermediate levels, alcohol sales volumes would shrink to 32%.”
He said people who drank more “lose their inhibitions and are more likely to engage in GBV (gender-based violence) and drinking is also a risk factor for being a victim of GBV”.
Parry said the evidence supporting public education – as a means of addressing harmful use of alcohol – was very low “and that could be why the industry favours educational strategies”.
Asked on whether SAB’s public education drive was effective, Rivett-Carnac referred to successes in the SAB Sharp campaign, in collaboration with all key stakeholders.
“We have been deliberate at the SAB in focusing on consumption, considering that the healthy communities mean less harmful consumption,” said Rivett-Carnac.
“Live Sharp is about uplifting the areas we work in and ensure that they thrive through economic inclusion. Drive Sharp is to reduce alcohol-related vehicle accidents.
“Sell Sharp is to ensure retailers trade responsibly and comply with liquor regulations and Talk Sharp is about promoting the enjoyment of beer with dignity and without normalising binge drinking.”
Lucky Ntimane, president of the Pan African Liquor Traders Alliance, said: “We partner with SAB Sharp and have thus far audited 35 000 liquor retailers we have found to be operating in a responsible manner.
“We are also working closely with communities where taverns are based in ensuring a friendly and safe environment for all.”
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