Government is mulling tougher alcohol laws including raising the minimum drinking age from 18 to 21 years, says Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
Dlamini told a press conference in Parliament on Thursday that local research shows that alcohol is a factor in 29% of non-fatal injured drivers and more than 47% of fatally injured drivers.
She also pointed out a finding in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Status Report on Alcohol and Health that showed South Africa is one of the leading countries in alcohol abuse disorders.
“In the light of this reality, of course backed by statistical analysis of the situation on the ground, government has prioritized this as a matter of urgency, which requires speedy and concerted attention from all in our society,” Dlamini said.
Some of the policy changes that government is considering are alcohol limitations on time, location and content (in relation to advertising); harmonization of existing legislation on liquor; review of liquor license fees; monitoring compliance with license conditions; license renewals not automatic but linked to level of compliance; exploring the possibility of raising the age of consumption and trade of alcohol from 18 years to 21 years strengthening the capacity of the inspectorate; and enhancing current measures to deal with public drinking and drunk driving.
In October the City of Cape Town attempted to shorten the hours during which liquor could be sold. However, after strong protests from the liquor industry this by-law is currently being reviewed. - I-Net Bridge