PIET Naude, in his column, "Support alcohol advert ban" (October 22), raises a few interesting points. However his assumptions and conclusions are unsound.
Naude has painted the consumption of alcohol as basically morally questionable and clearly does not believe adult citizens are able to make sound decisions about their alcohol consumption but require state interventions to rid society of alcohol abuse. In essence Naude believes in South Africa becoming a "nanny state".
The banning of advertising is and will be the biggest cop-out, and one that has been taken before in this country with no tangible impact on the consumption of products.
Increasing the price of goods, such as has happened with tobacco products, has had more impact on consumption patterns than any advertising ban.
Banning alcohol advertising would simply be punishing the sports teams, the advertising agencies and media for the sins of society. This in itself is a horrendous insult to the constitutional principles that are the foundation of our democratic society.
Fundamentally if a product is bad for society and society is being damaged by its use, then the state has the right to impose a ban on the product. It is for this reason that many narcotic substances are banned and dealing in, or consumption of these a criminal offence.
Naude would have us put a plaster on open heart surgery and expect this to help it heal. If alcohol is bad for society, beyond what our democratic society regards as moral, as Naude believes, then the product should be banned by the state and its sale or consumption made a criminal offence.
This is however where the state has its own particular dilemma, in that it raises billions in taxes and excise duties from alcohol that would be impossible to recoup elsewhere. The South African government would have a huge hole in its budget that far exceeds what the assumed cost of alcohol abuse is.
Secondly, it would collapse a massive alcohol production industry that employs tens of thousands of our citizens and we are still waiting for our president miraculously to produce the million new jobs he promised before the previous national elections.
While it is true that alcohol abuse has played a part in many automotive accidents, injuries, deaths, poor health, physical abuse and other criminal activity, there is no conclusive proof that the South African society as a whole has rejected the consumption of alcohol. Perhaps this should be tested in a referendum.
However it is unlikely this will ever occur here.
The truth of this matter is that there needs to be a moral and societal solution to the alcohol abuse problems we face in this country. Imposing of large fines and good policing that actually brings drunk drivers and abuse perpetrators to book can be a deterrent. However society saying to itself that things must change has a much more effective voice.
Leadership within schools, societal structures, sports stars and celebrities can on their own have a far greater impact on the young and society as a whole than any pathetic attempt such as the banning of advertising. Our own political leaders could perhaps lead the way by banning the consumption of alcohol at their numerous functions that they are so fond of, where the taste for expensive whiskies has become all too common.
However, the notion that the banning of advertising for alcohol will be a positive step is misguided and will only land up hurting the innocent, denying sports competitors the right to compete or make a living, or even ensure the very newspaper Naude had the opportunity to propose his thoughts in, that for the most part serves a critical part of a democratic society, may no longer exist.
Greg Stewart, Port Elizabeth