POLITICS

Our plan to reduce harm done by alcohol – Helen Zille

WCape Premier says among green paper's proposals are reducing easy access, support for price increases

Alcohol harms Reduction Policy green paper open for public comment

19 September 2016

The provincial government’s Alcohol-Related Harms Reduction Policy green paper has today been gazetted, and is now available for public comment.

The draft policy is a result of extensive research and input from a  diverse public sector working group, commissioned by the Western Cape Government. The policy is intended to guide the government’s approach to the regulation of alcohol in the province.

Research indicates that South Africans drink more alcohol than people from most other countries. The average consumption of pure alcohol per drinker is estimated at 27.1 litres per year, placing South African drinkers at the upper end of global consumption.

Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug countrywide. In 2013, it was recognised as the 3rd leading risk factor for death and disability in South Africa, following unsafe sex and obesity. It is also a dominant substance of abuse in the Western Cape. Cases of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder recorded in the Western Cape are among the highest in the country.It is for this reason that Alcohol-Related harms reduction has been identified by the Western Cape Government, as a Game Changer – a key area of focus in the current term of office.

Some of the other devastating effects of alcohol abuse include:

- 7-10% of our GDP or R165 - 236 billion is the estimated loss to South Africa’s economy due to alcohol-related harms;

- 70% of crimes in our communities are linked to substance abuse;

- 67% of domestic violence in our communities is alcohol related;

- 70% of trauma victims in our hospitals test positive for alcohol;

- 18%-26% of grade 1 learners in certain high-risk communities showed signs of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder; and

- 35.2% of Western Cape learners in grades 8 -11 binge drink – more than any other province.

In order to address this scourge, the whole of society has a critical role to play.

And members of the public can begin this process by engaging with and providing comment on the gazetted draft policy. The closing date for providing input is 30 November 2016.

The draft policy explores different possible interventions. These would require action from local, provincial and national government, greater enforcement from the SAPS and other safety & security agencies. The roles of the private sector and civil society are also defined.
Some of the key policy proposals include:

- Reducing easy access to alcohol (especially underage drinkers), by limiting trading hours in some instances or ensuring ID verification at purchase points;

- A focus on the entire value chain – including responsible consumption, responsible production, distribution and trade. This would be achieved through clamping down on illegal distribution channels and outlets, among other things; and

- Support for price increases as a means to impact on binge and youth drinking, especially on payday weekends

For more information, or to access the full policy green paper document visit: http://www.westerncape.gov.za/alcohol-harms or email: alcohol.greenpaper@westerncape.gov.za or call Ms Vicki-Lee Erfort on 021 4386287.

Issued by Michael Mpofu, Spokesperson for Premier Helen Zille, 19 September 2016