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Alcohol distributors want review of medical report that advised booze ban

Alcohol distributors say there are holes in the SAMRC report that advised the government to tighten laws on alcohol.
Alcohol distributors say there are holes in the SAMRC report that advised the government to tighten laws on alcohol.

Alcohol distributors, together with other businesses affected by SA's booze ban, want the Medical Research Council (SAMRC) report which supported the ban reviewed.

The distributors, under the banner of the Alcohol Coalition, have started the #SaveMyLivelihood campaign, which was launched on Tuesday.

“The coalition members have commissioned an independent methodological and statistical review of the SAMRC report which informed the banning of alcohol sales in South Africa,” said the coalition.

The organisation is made up of, among others, the National Liquor Traders Council, the Liquor Traders Association, the SA Liquor Brand Owners Association, Sisonke, SAB, Diageo, Heineken SA, Pernod Ricard SA, Distell and Wines of SA.

“While the report argues that a significant public health improvement would result from an alcohol ban, the review has identified a number of study design and statistical modelling limitations, due to the lack of complete data presented, which together make the robustness of its research uncertain,” it said.

Top scientists had put the report together for the government. Titled, "Impact of Alcohol on Health Services in South Africa", the report advised the government to impose stricter measures to curb alcohol abuse before the outright ban.

It revealed there was a huge increase in admissions to hospital trauma units since the lifting of the alcohol ban in June when the country entered level 3 of the coronavirus lockdown.

#SaveMyLivelihood highlighted the implications of the fresh suspension, saying it threatened to have catastrophic consequences.

It said over 117,000 jobs had been lost during the last ban of alcohol, along with R19bn lost in revenue. The group projected that the number could rise to a million lost jobs if the ban remains in place.

“This will impact many of the most vulnerable communities in South African, such as small businesses, entrepreneurs and especially tavern owners – the majority of whom are women,” said the coalition.

The #SaveMyLivelihood movement aimed to protect the wellbeing of these people, it said.

“There is no clear way forward for a lifting of the prohibition and as a result there has naturally been a significant, and increasing, rate at which jobs in the industry are being eroded and many other stakeholder livelihoods are being rapidly destroyed. 

“This is a time for our industry and our communities to collaborate and rally together. We must protect jobs and livelihoods while we contain the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on human life.”

© TimesLIVE

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