Banned booze ads will only affect the economy - badly

There is very little scientific evidence that advertising influences attitudes of young people towards alcohol, Econometrix said. (David Harrison, M&G)

There is very little scientific evidence that advertising influences attitudes of young people towards alcohol, Econometrix said. (David Harrison, M&G)

" ... There is no statistical relationship between advertising expenditure and the consumption of alcohol in South Africa and ... the proposed ban would have a severe negative impact on the economy, " according to research by Econometrix released on June 11.

There is also very little scientific evidence that advertising influences attitudes of young people towards alcohol, the report said.

At a press briefing, managing director and senior economist at Econometrix Robert Jeffrey said that policy efforts to reduce per capita alcohol consumption levels by means of regulating or banning liquor advertising may prove ineffective. Parliament is currently sitting on a Bill that could enforce a complete ban on alcohol advertising.

According to the Times on Thursday, a new draft of last year's Control of the Alcoholic Beverages Bill is currently crawling through the system.

"Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has been vocal in his opposition to alcohol advertising," the paper reported. In April, Motsoaledi reportedly promised to present the draft legislation to Parliament within a week. But the Bill is yet to be published.

But Econometrix said that, according to its research, there was not enough proof to show that alcohol adverstising played a major role in the consumption of alcohol in South africa.

"Qualitative and quantitative research by Econometrix shows that alcohol advertising is not a significant factor in determining consumption and has little or no effect on alcohol consumption per capita in South Africa," said Jeffrey at the press briefing.

"The majority of studies that we have reviewed found that the major factors that influence young people to drink are: family environment, including parent and sibling behaviour; peer behaviour; socio-economic status; personal attitudes and personal problems," said Jeffrey.

Result of the ban
According to Econometrix, a total ban on advertising would adversly affect South Africa's economy.

The potential economic impact could result in:

  • Gross domestic product: An estimated reduction of 0.28% of GDP was to be expected.
  • Employment: 11 954 jobs was estimated to be cut.
  • Fiscus: Total tax income will decrease by R1 783-million; and
  • Trade: Exports would decrease by R225-million and imports would decrease by R304-million."

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism
According to the report, Jeffrey pointed out that there was conflicting – if not insufficient – evidence to support the view that beverage alcohol advertising has a significant impact on the rate of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

"In fact, many evaluations suggest that alcohol abuse and alcoholism are related to the complex interaction of biological, socio-cultural and psychological factors in the environment," the report read.

From its research – which was commissioned by the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use – Econometrix recommended "interventions targeted at particular individuals, populations, and settings in society where harmful drinking patterns exist rather than blunt population based measures". By targeting those with problematic drinking patterns, and understanding the factors leading to inappropriate alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse and its consequences can be significantly reduced, the economic analyst agency added.

"Government and the industry should commit to develop, implement and support a broad array of targeted intervention programmes to achieve substantial reductions in irresponsible consumption and a substantial improvement in public health."

 

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