DTI gets tough with age limits
...sent to clients 17 Oct….. In what will be a tough ask, Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies has proposed a number of changes to the National Liquor Act, the most contentious being to raise the legal minimum age for purchasing liquor from 18 to 21 years of age. The call for public comment on the draft National Liquor Amendment Bill as gazetted closed on 30 October.
The Department and Trade and Industry (DTI), who deal with liquor licensing at a national level, state that South Africa has globally the worst figures for alcohol related accidents and anti-social incidents involving liquor abuse.
Drastic steps had to be taken to gain control of alcohol related injuries, illnesses and abusive behaviour that were costing the state some R40bn a year, the Minister said.
Younger age groups
The Bill focuses specifically on youth since DTI maintains that alcohol abuse specifically damages the development of the brain making youth vulnerable. Liquor advertising aimed specifically at young persons will be prohibited under the Act and revised rules set down on broadcast times and content. Advertising billboards aimed at youth will be banned from high density urban areas.
Minister Davies called for “robust public engagement on the issues raised in the Bill” as it dealt with matters “that are of significance to South African society.” He noted that South Africans consume alcohol related products at double the world average rate.
On the question of the age threshold proposed in the draft Bill is a minimum purchasing age, not as has been widely reported a “minimum drinking age”. The onus of establishing age will fall upon the supplier who must take “reasonable steps to establish age” when dealing with a young purchaser.
A civil liability will now fall upon the manufacturers and suppliers as well who knowingly breach the new regulations, Minister Davies said, believing that this was the only way to get the problem understood and the new rules adhered to.
The draft Bill states that responsibility will also fall upon the seller not only not to supply liquor to a person visibly under the influence of alcohol but that the seller could be in addition asked to show reason why they should not bear costs for damage incurred as a result of a subsequent accident involving that person who made the purchase.
On the problem of community issues, such as tackling foetal alcohol syndrome which is considerably worse in South Africa than elsewhere in the world and alcohol related crime, the onus of proof will shift not only to a supplier but also to manufacturers to show that reasonable steps were taken to ensure that liquor is not sold to illegal or unlicensed outlets. Which brings up the issue of liquor licences.
Distance from community
Licensing is a provincial matter and there are a number of changes that the amending Bill will make to the anchor Act which will have to be abided by. Particularly notable is the proposal that licences cannot be granted to an outlet less than 500 metres from any school, recreation facilities and places of worship.
Provinces are stated as “having an obligation” to be far stricter in granting licences in highly urbanised areas, giving due regard for the need for stricter business hours and for the need to deal with noise pollution in stressful living conditions.
Previous articles on category subject
New health regulations in place soon: DoH – ParlyReportSA
Licensing of Businesses Bill re-emerges – ParlyReportSA
Medicines Bill : focus on foodstuffs – ParlyReportSA