Aug 17, 2012
Banning alcohol advertising may have many unintended consequencesBack
United States|Alcohol Advertising|Large|Products|Alcohol Abuse|Cuts
© Reuse this
I am not in favour of such a move for a few reasons.
The one is that I do not believe that there will be any significant reduction in alcohol abuse. By the time someone is abusing alcohol, then advertising it or not makes no difference. For the sake of simplicity, I will divide alcohol abuse into two categories: the continuous and the one-off. By ‘continuous’ I mean a case where the person drinks to excess regularly, which may be twice a week. Such a person knows where to buy the alcohol and will get it, advertising or no advertising.
The one-off situation is what happens at a party, for example, and what comes to mind is some of the student bashes that I attended as a student. Believe me, a large group of students is going to drink alcohol with absolutely no inducement from advertising. In a situation like that, a person’s upbringing and interaction with friends are what will tell during the course of the evening. Of course, such parties can get somewhat out of hand – I read for four degrees at university; I have seen parties. I cannot imagine that the banning of alcohol advertising will have any impact on such parties.
So, how is the proposed banning going to cut alcohol use or, rather, abuse? It is not like smoking, where one hopes that young people will never start at all. We are not trying to stop people ever drinking a glass of wine or having a cold beer at the end of a hot day.
In fact, there is no advertising that tells people to drink – all alcohol advertising is about market share. No advertisement says: “Drink beer.” All the advertisers say: “Our beer is better.”
Further, a large amount of alcohol advertising is about the classy elements of alcohol consumption – like telling one about the crispness of wine or the aroma of brandy. The alcohol companies have been socially aware of their product, so even the beer advertisements show responsible use, to my mind. No ads promote student parties; they all tend to show quality people having a single drink.
So, I am really sceptical that cutting advertising will cut alcohol abuse. In fact, I believe that it could make it worse because then people get the feeling that drinking is some covert activity and with that comes the aura of ‘getting away with it’.
During the prohibition years in the US, when alcohol was totally banned, the sale of alcohol thrived – it just did so in an invisible fashion.
I now come to another point. When you throw a few pebbles in the pond, you cannot tell where all the ripples are going to end up. There is interaction and interference and a very complex pattern results. The economy is the same. If the alcohol advertising is banned, it is like throwing a fistfull of pebbles in the pond. Not only will advertising businesses be affected, but a possible result could be that wine sales drop by 10%. This will lead to job cuts in the wine lands, and that could lead to more crime as desperate people try to survive.
Banning alcohol advertising, as well as sports sponsorships and so on, is a case of major waves in the economy. This is very dangerous.
Finally, there is the extremely important point of the degree to which a government is permitted to alter the life patterns of its citizens. No government has the right to tell its citizens how to live their lives other than to say: “Stay within the bounds of law”, and laws should be kept to a minimum. Government is not the boss of the people; the people are the boss of government.
A government cannot tell you to put on a jacket when it gets cold and cannot tell you not to go skydiving because it is dangerous. Further, it cannot tell you not to eat raw fish because it could make you sick. By the same token, a government cannot tell you not to drink alcohol; it cannot even tell you how much alcohol you may drink. A government cannot tell alcohol producers not to sell their product.
If government is allowed to ban alcohol advertising, what is to stop them from banning the advertising of hamburgers on the grounds that too many hamburgers could lead to you suffering a heart attack? In fact, why not go further and pass a law that nobody is allowed to eat any meal in which the meat percentage is higher than 20%, and also that salads must constitute at least 33% of any meal? After all, such a law should lead to a healthier population . . . right. I imagine that such a law would actually lead to a healthier population, but gov- ernment does not have the right to tell me how much meat and salads I must eat. It does not have the right to tell me what I can drink either, and it does not have the right to tell any alcohol company not to offer me an option of buying its products.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor
Other Dr Kelvin Kemm News
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While strongly welcoming the promulgation of the new Part 101 of South Africa’s civil aviation regulations, governing the commercial operation of civil remotely piloted aircraft (RPAs) in South Africa, the Commercial Unmanned Aircraft Association of Southern Africa...
LSM Distributors has contracted engineering consultancy WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff Africa to undertake the R100-million restoration of the 54-year-old Kyalami racetrack, situated in Midrand. The restoration will assist in re-establishing it as a venue for...
South African Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has expressed the hope that the defence budget will be significantly increased over the next five years. She did so while addressing the media in her recent budget vote media briefing. The 2015/2016 defence...
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has been an implementing agency for the Global Environment Facility (GEF) since 2008. The relatively young portfolio has 28 projects over 30 countries on the continent according to the 2014 AfDB and GEF annual report released...
Investment in South African youth through apprenticeships and learnerships will not only create direct benefits for businesses but will also contribute significantly to job creation and socioeconomic transformation in the country.
Next ArticleFukushima radiation concerns unfounded