Liquor law changes imminent

ON Monday the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, proposed a Liquor Amendment Bill and invited public comment which will be allowed until October 30. The amendment is aimed at reducing the high rate of liquor consumption in the country which is the highest on the continent.
“We are also the highest with regard to foetal alcohol syndrome in the world, and 41% of injuries are related to alcohol consumption,” added Davies. He said the state spends about R37-billion annually on alcohol-related incidents.
There are three aspects of the Bill that caught many people’s attention.
The legal drinking age has been raised from 18 to 21 with the hope that this will discourage under-age drinking and starting to drink at an early age.. It reads: “A person must take reasonable measures to determine accurately whether a person is [a minor] under the age of 21 years, before selling or supplying liquor or methylated spirits to [that] such person”.
The onus is therefore placed on the liquor seller.
There are also restrictions on alcohol advertisements to make sure that drinking does not look as glamorous as the adverts make it out to be. The third one says, “The manufacturer or distributor who distributes liquor to an unlicensed seller shall be jointly and severally liable for any harm that may come to any person or damage to property due to the consumption of such liquor.” This will hold true even if the harm or damage comes from negligence on the part of the person who imbibed the liquor.
While this may only be a bill that still has to pass through parliament, it sounds like a good idea to me. The binge drinking by the ever younger crowd has got to a stage that it has been seen as normal by many. Society has just thrown its hands in the air and resigned itself to the fact that under age drinking is here to stay and there is nothing that can be done to stem its rise.
The government has tried many measures, like closing liquor establishments earlier and in some cities even toying with the idea of no sale of liquor on Sundays. All these measures do not seem to be working, however. I believe, the measure that might have the most success is the limiting of advertisements. Children are great at copying what they see, so limiting the images of drinking as being cool might limit its impact and encourage fewer children to start drinking. I know some might think these amendments are cosmetic. If children want to drink they will find a way to get the liquor. Also many unscrupulous vendors will continue selling to them anyway.
They might, but this time there might be dire consequences for both manufacturers and retailers.

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