South Africans are considered to be irresponsible when it comes to alcohol, as the country is rated sixth in the world for binge drinking.
According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2018 global status report on alcohol and health, most drinkers do so excessively, says chief director of the National Liquor Authority Prea Randumy.
“In other words, a binge drinker would drink between five to six glasses of alcohol in a particular sitting.”
South Africans are considered not to be responsible users of alcohol but rather take to binge drinking.
This often takes place from a Friday evening through the weekend into Sunday, then a person still goes to work drunk.
“We are not saying people shouldn’t drink. We are saying they should drink responsibly,” she said.
The status report showed that 56% of the country’s drinkers consumed beer. That was because South Africa has some of the cheapest beer in the world, says Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa) regional coordinator Aadielah Maker Diedericks.
“We have the cheapest. Cape Town was in the top five cities in the world with the cheapest beer,” she said. The 2016 GoEuro Beer Price Index ranked Cape Town third out of 70 countries in terms of cheap beer.
Advertising was a big contributor to drawing consumers to alcohol, especially in the sports industry, Maker Diedericks said.
According to a 2017 study by the Medical Research Council, 78% of young people who participated said they were exposed to alcohol advertising through sport.
“All the major sporting codes are sponsored by alcohol: soccer, rugby, cricket. They’ve made the association between sports and alcohol like celebrating a win after a game with alcohol.
“It is about inviting people into the world of sports and making the association it can be enjoyed through alcohol,” said Diedericks.
Since South Africa had a high youth population of those aged between 15 and 29, the country’s alcohol binging problem affected those in that age group.
“It is worst in the festive season. You also have matriculants celebrating the end of a phase in their life.”
The Road Traffic Management Corporation announced last week that out of 1,600 arrested motorists since the start of the festive season, the majority were driving under the influence of alcohol.
This included a driver whose alcohol level was measured at seven times above the legal limit.