The alcohol industry has pledged R150 million to assist with direct harm reduction programmes for 2021, according to a statement released on August 20.
The investment is to focus on improving existing programmes and finding new, innovative measures to deal with key areas of concern, including drinking and driving or walking, binge or underage drinking, as well as gender-based violence (GBV) and femicide.
These include the following:
Drinking and driving or walking
The industry will use part of the resources to support law enforcement to effectively enforce legislative and enforcement measures to reduce drinking and driving/walking.
Alcohol Evidence Centres will be able to do breathalyser alcohol-testing and results for prosecution purposes on the spot.
The industry is working with several taverns that will use a buddy system to walk home intoxicated customers to avoid drinking and walking accidents.
The industry will place emphasis on their campaigns to educate consumers on binge-drinking. This will include messages on responsible drinking habits as well as drinking guidelines. Many brands have created their own 0% alcohol products to encourage responsible drinking.
Discussions are currently underway between the retail sector and the alcohol industry to implement an ID verification system in all on-and off-consumption sites, as well as the extension of the underage drinking education programme, which was created for schools using digital platforms so information can be communicated to community-based youth organisations.
Partnering with government and civil society, the industry is committed to assist with issues around gender-based violence.
SAB is one of the industry members, and has launched a GBV WhatsApp helpline that forms part of its GBV social awareness campaign #NoExcuse.
This is used as a safe reporting platform for victims of GBV, providing them with a referral to a counselling support service.
Discussions with tavern owners and government are currently underway to ensure that the best measures are put into place and to ascertain how the industry can provide support with the implementation of the national strategic plan on gender-based violence and femicide.
Direct support to the Healthcare System during the Covid-19 pandemic
Since the outbreak of Covid-19, businesses in the liquor value chain have already made investments in direct support to the health system by providing more than 200 000 litres of pure alcohol for the production of sanitiser, the supply of finished sanitiser and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The industry further committed to providing hospitals in the four most affected provinces namely the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Western Cape, with PPE worth R15.5 million.
Alcohol industry spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said the industry appreciates the opportunity to trade again after President Cyril Ramaphosa lifted the ban on alcohol and cigarettes sales.
“We call on traders and consumers alike to abide by all the lockdown rules and make sure that their drinking occasions do not contribute to the spread of infections, and place an unnecessary burden on the health system. We have a collective responsibility to protect our livelihoods as various players in the alcohol value chain.
“Consumers equally have a responsibility to behave appropriately and not expose themselves and others to unnecessary harm and potential infections.”
This article first appeared on Lowvelder and was republished with permission.