Government pushing to increase the legal drinking age in South Africa

Drinking Age SA
Photo by Stéphan Valentin on Unsplash

South African policymakers are strongly considering new – and possibly permanent – restrictions on the alcohol industry, motivated by recommendations and data recieved from the country’s multiple alcohol bans.

According to a report by TimesLive, President Cyril Ramaphosa is currently reconsidering the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill (which was first made public in 2016) in response to the harmful effects of alcohol.

Under the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill, the most notable changes include:

  • Legal drinking age increased to 21 years
  • The introduction of a 100-metre radius limit of trade around educational and religious institutions
  • Banning of any alcohol sales and advertising

Last week, Ramaphosa said extending the drinking age was being considered by the government to reduce alcohol-related trauma hospital admissions and to curb the “ugly” abuse of alcohol amongst the youth.

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has voiced her support and indicated in court documents submitted last month that she is in favour of some of the proposals.

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“All of these I consider to be a useful medium to long term tools to reduce South Africa’s high rate of alcohol consumption to be considered by the legislature in due course,” said Dlamini Zuma in an affidavit.

Labour and civil society groups are also placing pressure on the government to introduce the Draft Liquor Amendment Bill. Medical professionals are also calling for changes, saying that the strict lockdown regulations under the latest ban drastically improved hospital bed availability.

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The Democratic Alliance says that the government already has ready-made legislation waiting to implemented and supports the changes prescribed in 2016 Draft Liquor Amendment Bill.

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