Government might consider banning alcohol adverts in its concerted effort to fight the serious problems associated with substance abuse facing the country.
It has questioned the timing of most of those TV adverts, which are flighted during prime time, saying that had an impact on the minds of young people.
It also said that it had been most appalled by children who sniffed glue at grade R and while in primary school.
Instead of the legal drinking age being 18, government proposed pushing up the alcohol age restriction to 21.
Another proposal was also to make liquor trading licenses more expensive and the tightening of monitoring measures of alcohol trading outlets.
Government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on Substance Abuse addressed the media in Parliament today following its meeting yesterday on its preparations for the upcoming second Biennial Substance Abuse Summit, scheduled between March 15 and 17 in Durban.
Among those to be invited to the crucial summit included non-government organisations, community role players, and those fighting substance abuse in rural areas and farms.
The committee’s Minister for Social Development Bathabile Dlamini and her Science and Technology counterpart Naledi Pandor addressed journalists.
Pandor warned that while governing had prioritised job creation, the youth should not indulge in drug abuse as an excuse for frustration of being jobless, as that had a harmful effect on their lives and the community.
Dlamini said that government would act on the mushrooming of unlicensed sheebens and taverns in the townships as that contributed to crimes associated with substance abuse.
She said they were aware of some people who would defend these outlets, saying they had been brought up on the proceeds of such trading, which according to Dlamini, had led to the disintegration of many families.
Pandor said the country was facing a serious substance abuse problem with huge social and economic costs, adding that countries such as the UK and New Zealand had upped the legal age at which young people could access alcohol.
“We have to act now in raising awareness in the whole of society. We have to act now with the determination to put an end to the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse.
“The shocking reality of the situation has strengthened our resolve to tackle this problem head-on.
Local research shows that alcohol is a factor in 29 percent of non-fatally injured drivers and more than 47 percent of fatally injured drivers.
“The recent World Health Organisation Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health shows that South Africa is one of the leading countries in alcohol abuse disorders,” said Dlamini.
She underlined that policy proposals they had come up with in dealing with substance abuse would be subjected to “rigorous debate and scrutiny” at the summit. – Francis Hweshe, BuaNews
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