UNDERAGE DRINKING

“South African children are drinking from a young age, and our country has the unenviable ranking of being the sixth-largest consumer of alcohol in the world (WHO). Statistics show that our young people are in fact, drinking from as young as 13 years of age (which is illegal) – a sobering fact. We have to start the conversation earlier to effectively address the problem of underage drinking,” says Ingrid Louw, aware.org CEO.

Underage drinking is a key pillar in aware.org’s broader programme to drive social change, promote a culture of responsibility, and reduced alcohol-related harm.

As a society, many do not realise the extent or implications of underage drinking.  In fact, many parents, adults, and caregivers inadvertently encourage underage drinking through the practices of sending children to buy alcohol or sending children to fetch alcohol from the fridge or liquor cabinet.  Alcohol, its advertising, sales, and integration into all facets of communication and its consumption have become normalised, there has been a desensitisation to its impact and effects and has even been elevated to a level of ‘glamour’ and status in society – which has left our children vulnerable.

 

 UNDERAGE DRINKING STARTS LONG BEFORE IT BEGINS. YOU CAN STOP IT.

UNDERAGE DRINKING IN SOUTH AFRICA: What You Need to Know

  • The sale and serving of alcohol to persons under the age of 18 years old, is illegal
  • It is illegal for persons under the age of 18 years old to buy and consume alcohol
  • 50% of teenagers in South Africa have tried, or consumed alcohol
    Studies also show that someone who starts drinking under the age of 18 (which is illegal) – is more likely to develop alcohol or other substance dependence, than someone who starts consuming alcohol at an older age (Letsela et al, 2019; Maserumule, Skaal & Sithole, 2019; Ololade & Mndzebele, 2017.; (Bhana & Groenewald, 2019; Groenewald et al., 2019; Kowalski et al., 2020; Makela & Mustonen, 2000)
  • In South Africa, substance use generally starts during the teenage years and can commence as early as 10 years old (Bhana & Groenewald, 2019)
  • Based on a recent HSRC (Human Sciences Research Council) endline study conducted on an intervention, together with aware.org, on underage drinking, it was found that up to 30% (sample of 1,302 participants) of the total adolescents surveyed where able to purchase alcohol from a tavern or a shop/retail environment
  • South African data further indicate that at least 25% of school-going youth have engaged binge drinking (Reddy et al., 2013)
  • 12% of school-going youth have had their first drink before 13 years old (Reddy et al., 2013)

With an increased focus by Government on the scourge of Underage Drinking, there is a clear need as industry, to prioritise vigilance, self-regulation, and the visible compliance to the legal requirement of no underage alcohol sales. In addition, the Liquor Amendment Bill, first made public in 2016, is expected to be presented for sign-off in the near future. The importance of a clear demonstration of visible and voluntary Industry and Trade Compliance Community (in both in-store and online environments) is of critical importance. This initiative has been shared with the National Liquor Authority as part of industry’s commitment to addressing underage drinking. This matter also has direct touch points for how the Industry communicates to the market as a whole, and for the Code and ongoing review and strengthening of The Commercial Communication Code.

 The Alcohol Industry and the extended alcohol value chain have the responsibility to RAISE STANDARDS of advertising, marketing, sales, and communication and to IMPROVE and ENHANCE SAFEGUARDS for online advertising, marketing, and sales of alcohol to combat alcohol-related harm and underage drinking.

Aware.org has developed an Underage ID Verification Logo and Toolkit for use on all marketing, communication and advertising platforms, point-of-sale (POS) materials, physical trade, and retail environments, as well as on-line sales/e-commerce platforms. The toolkit was designed to demonstrate visible and voluntary compliance to not sell or serve alcohol to minors and to alert the trade, retailers, adults/legal consumers, and related parties to the law that applies in this regard.

By demonstrating compliance and commitment through all marketing channels and at point of sale, the Industry affirms its collective consciousness and broader industry commitment to reduce alcohol-related harm, and the sale of alcohol to minors.

 

THERE ARE KEY ACTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN BY THE INDUSTRY AND THE EXTENDED ALCOHOL VALUE CHAIN TO VISIBLY DEMONSTRATE COMMITMENT TO ALCOHOL HARM REDUCTION, WITH REGARD TO ADDRESSING ADVERTISING, MARKETING AND SALES OF ALCOHOL PRODUCTS TO UNDERAGED PERSONS:

  • Not to sell or serve alcohol to underage persons.
  • Raise standards of responsibility for advertising, marketing, and sales to combat alcohol-related harm and underage drinking (in trade, retail, on- and off-consumption environments; and online)
  • Improving and enhancing safeguards for online advertising, marketing, and sales to help prevent underage drinking

 

THERE ARE KEY ACTIONS THAT CAN BE TAKEN IN TRADE, RETAIL, ON- AND OFF-CONSUMPTION ENVIRONMENTS TO PREVENT UNDERAGE DRINKING:

REQUEST ID VERIFICATION!

  • As per the law, the sale and serving of alcohol to persons under the age of 18 years old, is illegal
  • It is illegal for persons under the age of 18 years old to buy and consume alcohol
  • In trade, outlet, retail, on- and off-consumption environments, identification can and should be requested and checked in cases where the age of person purchasing alcohol is in question – and the sale of alcohol can be denied if valid and verifiable identification cannot be produced by the consumer or patron at point of purchase

Need Help?
Is alcohol having a negative impact on your life, or those close to you?
You can call the toll-free SANCA substance abuse hotline on 0800 121314, or SMS 32312.