CALLS FOR STRICTER CONTROLS AFTER BOOZE AND TOBACCO SALE BANS LIFTED

The bans were lifted after lockdown regulations were amended to reopen the economy as the COVID-19 infection rate dropped.

Distributors prepare to send out beer after the ban on alcohol sales was lifted with the country moving to lockdown level 2 on 18 August 2020.

Kaylynn Palm

CAPE TOWN - Alcohol and cigarettes are back on the shelves and have been available to purchase from Tuesday, but there are warnings from some quarters.

The bans were lifted after lockdown regulations were amended to reopen the economy as the COVID-19 infection rate dropped.

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Sappa) has backed the move but wants more control over consumption.

Saapa director, Maurice Smithers, said that their view was that even if alcohol was made available, it must be controlled.

He said that in an attempt to get the ban lifted, the liquor industry had said that a few things should happen, such as reducing the blood alcohol content level for drivers and producing an ID document when purchasing alcohol.

“We’re not sure if the industry will take this forward, now that they have gotten what they wanted.”

Smithers said that they had suggested that the size of bottles that drinks were sold in be limited.

“We’re saying limit the sizes, so instead of having one litres for beers, have 500ml for beers and ciders, and 750ml for spirits and wine.”

He added that there should be no special offers allowing individuals to buy more for less, as this encouraged people to drink more.

Smithers said that at this stage, advertising should be banned, except for points of sale.

He said that these steps would ensure that there would not be a sudden increase in trauma cases relating to alcohol.

STRONGER TOBACCO LEGISLATION

Meanwhile, health organisations are also calling for stronger tobacco control legislation.

The National Council Against Smoking, the Cancer Association, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Medical Research Council are again calling for the Control of Tobacco and Electronic Delivery Systems Bill to be passed.

The National Council Against Smoking's executive director, Savera Kalideen, said that the bill, when passed, would make it easier for people to choose smoke-free lives and would regulate e-cigarettes and vape products.

“The ban was always going to be temporary, however, the long-term need for improvements in the country’s tobacco control policies remain.”

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Kalideen said that the e-cigarette industry, in particular, was operating in a legislative vacuum, introducing more young people to nicotine addiction with toxic products masked in youth-friendly flavours.

“Even without COVID-19, more than 42,000 people die from tobacco-related diseases each year. This is an intolerable human cost and is preventable with the reduction in the use of tobacco products.”

At the same time, the British American Tobacco South Africa is calling on government to urgently ratify the World Health Organization Illicit Trade Protocol in order to eradicate the illegal sale of cigarettes.

The company said that South Africa signed the comprehensive international rules seven years ago but had still not formally ratified it.

The organisation said that research showed that cigarette brands mainly associated with the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association had completely taken over the market during the tobacco sales ban.

Batsa’s Johnny Moloto said: “The brand “RG” from the Zimbabwean corporation has exploded during lockdown. Before the ban, Batsa had a market share that was 32 times larger than the Fita member.”

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