Western Cape economic development and tourism MEC Alan Winde said yesterday he was not "100%" convinced banning alcohol advertising would solve the problem of alcohol abuse in the country.
The national government has been on an intensive drive to curb alcohol abuse, with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi saying plans to ban alcohol advertising would go a long way in dealing with the problem. Last week, Mr Motsoaledi said he would support Western Cape Premier Helen Zille’s fight against alcohol abuse in the province.
However, some analysts say a complete ban on alcohol advertising would have a devastating impact, especially on the media sector - which draws significant revenue from the industry - and the economy.
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Speaking at a press briefing on the sidelines of the Western Cape provincial liquor conference, Mr Winde said there was still a lot of work to be done in order to understand the implications of a ban on alcohol advertising.
"It is obviously a national issue. I think we need to do a bit of work on it (the mooted ban). I am not 100% convinced removing advertising would solve the problem."
However, he said if a study show ed a correlation between alcohol advertising and abuse, a ban would be "reasonable".
Mr Winde conceded that a complete ban on the advertising of alcohol would have a negative impact on business.
Addressing conference delegates, he said the regulation of liquor had to be managed in such a manner that it discouraged the negative effects of alcohol abuse and misuse, while still allowing the liquor industry to contribute to the economy of the province.
The Western Cape Liquor Act that came into effect earlier this month bans the sale of alcohol in residential areas and near schools. The regulations also effectively give residents a say on whether or not a licence is approved in their neighbourhood.
Mr Winde told delegates the act would deal with the scourge of unlicensed liquor outlets trading in residential areas. He said statistics showed alcohol abuse continued to have a harmful effect on the country.
"The statistics speak for themselves - according to the 2010-11 crime statistics in SA, nationally, half of patients who die in transport-related incidents have elevated blood-alcohol content - 77% of all deaths caused by sharp objects involved positive alcohol levels," Mr Winde said.
"On weekends, our hospitals are dealing with a situation that reminds me of a war zone. It is time government steps in and, in collaboration with communities, fixes this problem."
Leif Peterson, director at Sustainable Livelihoods Foundation, a research organisation based in Cape Town, told delegates unregulated liquor traders were "important black businesses ... supporting livelihoods".
Mr Peterson said a study commissioned by Mr Winde’s department found informal liquor trading provided significant job and economic opportunities in townships, creating 65 000 direct and 87 500 indirect jobs. There was a need to develop strategies for alternative business activities for traders affected by the act.