National Liquor Amendment Bill

PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO LIQUOR ACT – INCREASE OF LEGAL DRINKING AGE TO 21

The Department of Trade and Industry presented the National Liquor Amendment Bill and liquor policy paper for public comment on the 3rd October 2016.

Among the amendments proposed by the Bill, is the increase of the legal drinking age from 18 to 21.

Other significant amendments proposed are the introduction of civil liability for manufacturers and suppliers of liquor who supply to illegal liquor outlets and particularly where this leads to accidents causing injury and death. A ban on liquor outlets at service stations and taxi ranks is also proposed.

The Bill cites evidence that the increase of the legal drinking age will curb alcohol abuse among the youth. This includes statistical evidence from other countries where the legal drinking age has been increased to 21, which shows a reduction in, inter alia, motor vehicle collisions caused by intoxicated drivers.

The Bill further targets liquor advertising and in particular adverts aimed at the youth. This will include liquor adverts containing warnings of the harmful effects of excess liquor consumption.

In addition, no billboard advertising will be permitted within 100m of junctions, street corners and traffic circles. Furthermore, no manufacture or supply of liquor shall be permitted within 500m of schools, places of worship, recreational facilities, rehabilitation and treatment centres, public institutions and other amenities. The Minister will also be permitted to prescribe timeslots when adverts regarding liquor may be broadcast on both radio and television.

In motivating the need for the Bill, Trade and Industry Minister, Rob Davies, has said that the annual alcohol consumption amongst South Africans is 5 billion litres, which is higher than the global average. The Government thus believes that more stringent measures are required to curb this alarming trend.

The public has 45 days ie until 14 November 2016, to comment on the proposed amendments.

A copy of the published Bill can be viewed at: http://www.thedti.gov.za/gazzettes/40319.pdf