Draft alcohol bill could increase legal drinking age from 18 to 21

DURBAN – Government is reanalysing the Liquor Amendment Bill and the Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill which may increase the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 in an attempt to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The measure may also be used to curb alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

The Liquor Amendment Bill proposed in 2018, targets the youth of South Africa, since alcohol abuse is high amongst teenagers. One of the proposals in the bill calls for strict alcohol advertising regulations.

The Control of Marketing of Alcohol Beverages Bill proposed in 2013 also aimed at restricting alcohol adverting regulations had faced administrative difficulties which has lead both bills to remain inactive.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) alcohol puts the consumer at risk of facing a range of consequences from mental health issues to respiratory issues. Since the Covid-19 disease is known to attack the respiratory system, alcohol damages the immune system by harming the immune cells that clear pathogens out of the airways which increases the consumer’s risk of being infected by Coivd-19.

“Alcohol consumption is associated with a range of communicable and noncommunicable diseases and mental health disorders, which can make a person more vulnerable to COVID-19. In particular, alcohol compromises the body’s immune system and increases the risk of adverse health outcomes,” the WHO stated.

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