File image: A glass of beer on a wooden table. IOL.

CAPE TOWN - The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) says that if government adopts the National Liquor Act with specific reference to the provisions around restricting advertising, government could save R1.9 billion. 

This comes after a September/October 2017 research report undertaken by economics-based consulting firm, Genesis Analytics, reportedly shows that stricter legislation is not only good for health but for the economy as well.

The report was commissioned by the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and funded by the SA Liquor Brand Association. 

According to the findings, banning of advertising alcohol products will result in a decline in tax revenue between R0.3 and R1.1 billion. 

However, this will be made up by government spending which will save government between R0.7 and R1.9 billion. 

SAAPA says government will save by essentially saving on public health spend. 

“Currently, government is already spending more on dealing with alcohol-related harm +R247b vs the tax revenue generated +R97b. The predicted loss in tax revenue compared with government gain reflects this contradiction. What the report reflects is that government will reduce its expenditure on alcohol-related harm and therefore increase budget that could be directed to service delivery, education and development”, says SAAPA. 

The association says that they acknowledge that we live in a free market economy. Therefore, banning alcohol completely is virtually unattainable. 

They emphasised their call which is not for the banning of alcohol but to ban the advertising thereof. 

In February last year, Independent Media reported that Research released by the Soul City Institute for Social Justice ]indicated that young people’s views on alcohol advertising, marketing and availability have a direct influence on their drinking patterns and sexual behaviour.

READ ALSO: Alcohol ads luring SA youth to drink

“As a society we need to acknowledge that despite less that half the population drinks, South Africans that consume, consume at very high levels. Everyday in SA 170 people die of alcohol related harm, alcohol is a leading cause of several cancers and other diseases, is a leading contributor to hospital admissions, interpersonal violence, including GBV, etc. Government has the responsibility and mandate to take measures that promote health and protects it's citizens from harm”, said SAAPA. 

However, the banning of advertising alcohol products will result in a predicted job loss of 1533 (3.7%) of the current 41177 jobs directly employed by the alcohol industry by 2025. 

SAAPA says that saving lives should be a priority which will more than offset the job losses. 

When asked what opportunities would these individuals then have, SAAPA said that other sectors of South Africa needs revival such as the clothing and manufacturing sector. 

They also noted that the IT field is constantly evolving and creating jobs. 

“AT the same time we want to learn from what happened when the ban on tobacco advertising was introduced. Other sectors like cell phone companies stepped in, absorbing losses”, concluded SAAPA. 

ALSO READ: Proposed new liquor law needs revisiting

TOP STORY: Gupta-linked Mediosa cries wolf and fails to pay workers - Report