Alcohol-related harms reduction in the Western Cape
Alcohol causes more damage to our communities than we realise, and there is a lack of support to fix the damage caused.
Our existing laws and policies focus on the regulations of licensing, production, distribution and sale of alcohol, but do not address the impact and consequences of alcohol-related harms on society.
We need change, and we need your help to make it happen.
The Alcohol Harms Reduction Green Paper is the first step towards making our communities safer and our opportunities greater, by minimising alcohol consumption and reducing unnecessary harm to individuals, families and society as a whole.
Now that it's been gazetted, the Green Paper is open for public feedback and comment until 14 December 2016. We will continue to gather information from communities to create a policy that works.
Support the change we're seeking by adding your voice to the conversation through the form below.
Read more about Alcohol Harms Reduction in English, Afrikaans or Xhosa.
The problems we're facing together
South Africans drink more alcohol than people from most other countries, and we do so in risky patterns. The average consumption of pure alcohol per drinker is estimated at 27.1l per year, placing South African drinkers at the upper end of global consumption. When consumption increases, so does alcohol-related harm.
Alcohol is the most commonly abused drug countrywide. In 2013, it was recognised as the 3rd leading risk factor for death and disability in South Africa, following unsafe sex and obesity. It’s also a dominant substance of abuse in the Western Cape. Cases of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder recorded in the Western Cape are among the highest in the country.
Current statistics reflect the substantial changes in behaviour we need to achieve to be able to reduce alcohol consumption and harms in the province:
- 35.2% of Western Cape learners in grades 8-11 binge drink – more than any other province.
- 7-10% of our GDP or R165-236 billion is the estimated loss to South Africa’s economy due to alcohol-related harms.
- 70% of crimes in our communities are linked to substance abuse.
- 67% of domestic violence in our communities is alcohol related.
- 70% of trauma victims in our hospitals test positive for alcohol.
- 18%-26% of grade 1 learners in certain high-risk communities showed signs of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
Thinking globally, acting locally
The Western Cape Alcohol-Related Harms Reduction Green Paper has 8 key focus areas. These are based on the 10 target areas recommended by the World Health Organisation:
Pricing and economy
The latest 2009 study showed that the manufacturing and retail of alcohol contributed R93.2 billion to the economy or 3.9% to GDP. This contribution is important, especially in the Western Cape, but the cost of alcohol-related harms outweighs the contribution.
The financial cost of alcohol to the economy was estimated as a net loss of R245-280 billion or 10-12% of GDP.
Our Green Paper addresses these costs by proposing several changes to the way the business of alcohol is managed in the Western Cape:
- Encourage a national ban on alcohol advertising that is visible to anyone under the age of 18, and restrict sports advertising and promotion that links alcohol to success.
- Advertising, marketing and the promotion of alcohol at all public facilities and events organised by the Western Cape Government should be prohibited.
- Encourage levies on promotional spending to cover alcohol-related harms counter messaging.
- Budget for alcohol-related harms and communication action interventions at all public health and social service facilities.
- Consider the possibility of maximum limits for trading hours or days to reduce consumption.
- Regulate the amount of outlets in each area based on zoning requirements and population.
- Encourage the increase of alcohol pricing through excise tax or minimum unit pricing.
- Encourage the reduction of ethanol content in alcoholic beverages.
- Increase enforcement of underage drinking regulations.
- Bring responsible unlicensed liquor outlets into the regulated market in a sustainable and responsible manner.
- Enable the rezoning of outlets for liquor sales in appropriate residential areas.
- Pinpoint the supply chain of the unlicensed liquor industry.
- Spread awareness of alternative economic opportunities to unlicensed outlet owners.
- Capacitate enforcement units through resources and an integrated liquor enforcement approach.
Enforcement is key to making lasting change a reality
Enforcement is a combination of compliance and law enforcement. It ensures that liquor licence holders and applicants follow the law, and that those who don’t are punished according to it.
Our Green Paper outlines an increased level of enforcement, including:
- All spheres of government should work together to clamp down on unlicensed outlets and the supply of liquor to these unlicensed liquor outlets.
- Arrange hotlines to promote the involvement of communities in stopping unlicensed selling.
- Increase and strengthen the number of trained liquor law enforcement officers in each sphere of government to work together, with additional enforcement authority.
- Establish one primary liquor enforcement centre for operational coordination.
- Liquor licence requirements should be adjusted to guarantee that licence holders, and the managers who will be on site, are trained on the Western Cape Liquor Act of 2008.
- Mobile testing for breath and blood alcohol levels must be conducted by a qualified provincial official with an approved, legally admissible device at all Western Cape roadblocks.
Alcohol and the road environment
Numerous reports and studies on Western Cape road fatalities, particularly Cape Town roads, have shown the prevalence of alcohol.
These are deaths we could be reducing and even eliminating through changes proposed in our Green Paper:
- Place liquor licensing restrictions in areas with high occurrences of alcohol-related road trauma.
- Place restrictions on the sale of alcohol at outlets on national or provincial roads.
- Encourage a stricter alcohol limit and/or zero tolerance licensing system for young or new drivers.
- Place an alcohol limit on certain classes of roads for pedestrians, between certain hours.
- Introduce alcohol-detecting ignition interlocks (vehicle starting system breathalysers) to the vehicles of certain drivers.
- Support and strengthen random breath testing.
Health and social services
Health and social services play a critical role in all prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services for individuals with alcohol-related conditions.
We'd like to enhance and extend the services we provide to include the improvements introduced in our Green Paper:
- Improve access to treatment services for alcohol-related conditions.
- Encourage prevention, early intervention, detoxification and aftercare.
- Provide evidence-based interventions at antenatal clinics to reduce alcohol-exposed pregnancies.
- Promote early screening and referral services at schools in high-risk areas.
- Expand specialised treatment services and interventions for youth at care centres.
Substance abuse affects an individual’s health as well as their family, community and workplace. As we propose in our Green Paper, treatment should therefore not only focus on the individual, but also on their environment:
- Expand the community-based model for substance abuse treatment and rehabilitation.
- Coordinate integrated community programmes.
- Leverage neighbourhood watch structures to assist in gathering and spreading information.
- Increase community input in the management of social disruptions linked to liquor outlets.
Education and awareness
We support a whole-of-society approach to education and awareness. We aim to educate the public about the negative consequences of harmful alcohol use and mobilise support to reduce these harms. We want to:
- Strengthen education and awareness interventions.
- Leverage the after-school space for education and awareness programmes.
- Promote and strengthen education and awareness programmes to stakeholders.
- Improve the reach and ease of access to education and awareness material.
Information, data collection, monitoring and evaluation
The efficient and coordinated collection, management, analysis and sharing of alcohol-related information is vital to monitor and evaluate the trends and impact of interventions. Our Green Paper elaborates on how we aim to do this:
- Establish a 3-tier (national, provincial and local) governmental structure to collect alcohol-related information and data for monitoring and evaluation.
These arrangements include policies, systems and processes. Institutional arrangements should focus on cooperation across all spheres of government, relevant departments and role-players, and support effective measures to reduce alcohol-related harms. To achieve this as effectively as possible, we should:
- Shift the administrative burden and cost of liquor licence applications from the South African Police Service, municipalities and the Western Cape Liquor Association to the applicant.
- Introduce a relationship between liquor licensing, trading hours, lighting and pedestrian infrastructure to promote safer spaces.
The change we need
The way forward involves regulating alcohol in terms of its consumption and its consequences, using a whole-of-society
approach. We all need to play our part to make this work.
Alcohol continues to be a product that is often abused, which causes substantial harm. Our communities, especially our youth, are
at risk. We have laws in place to regulate the licensing, production, distribution and sale of alcohol, but these laws fail to recognise the impact and consequences of alcohol on society. We need to act.
A new policy will rewrite these laws and regulations, and change the way the Western Cape will function in terms of alcohol. We do
this so that the rights of individuals, families and communities are protected and all our people are able to make the most of their
The policy aims to provide a balanced regulation of alcohol, which reduces the harm caused by alcohol in communities, while
continuing to acknowledge its contribution to agriculture and the economy.
Submit your feedback
Public participation has begun, and we need your input before the closing date of 14 December 2016.
Send us your feedback about our Green Paper and the proposals we're making to create a healthier, safer society for us all.