New legal drinking age for South Africa is one step closer

Following a long consultation period, the Liquor Amendment Bill is now in front of cabinet, and is expected to be passed through parliament within the coming weeks.

Originally met with positivity, the Bill has come under fire over the past week after it emerged that the department of health had stepped in to make a number of last minute adjustments – including a total ban on all alcohol advertising.

Citing a recent Nielsen report, SA Liquor Brand-Owners Association chairperson Sibani Mngadi said that silencing alcohol advertising will cost the out-of-home, radio, television and print media more than R1.9 billion a year.

“The figure excludes losses that creative and strategic agencies will suffer when their alcohol brand clients leave. It also excludes an estimated R205 million loss to digital media,” he said.

“It’s a high price to pay for a tactic that by the government’s own admission is not proven to work.”

However the push towards the ban of alcohol advertising is just one of a number of laws which is expected to significantly impact South Africa’s liquor industry.

Other changes include:

  • The bill proposes banning the supply of liquor and methylated spirits to persons under the age of 21 – up from 18 currently. This includes any and all alcoholic advertisements which are aimed at people under the age of 21.
  • The new bill calls for the prohibition of  the manufacturing, distribution or retail sale of liquor in both rural and urban communities, on any location that is less than 500 metres away from schools, place of worship, recreational facilities, rehabilitation or treatment centres, residential areas, public institutions and other like amenities.
  • Manufacturers and suppliers of alcohol to illegal or unlicensed outlets will effectively be liable to all damages caused by their unlawful distribution.

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