The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD), a non-governmental organisation has commended the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for the ban on alcohol advertisement, effective January 2018.
It described the move by the FDA as bold and courageous, and said even though it was long overdue it would help reduce the exposure and alcohol use, especially among children.
A statement signed by Mr Labram M. Musah, the Programmes Director of VALD and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Monday said.
It said the uncontrolled advertisement of alcoholic beverages had led to exposing children and young people to alcohol, which affects their development and growth while influencing their sexual activities.
The statement urged the FDA to re-examine the contents of some of the advertisement before they are aired, saying “this is because most of them are appealing and attractive to kids.
“We must be mindful that our kids, who are the future generations, are glued to television sets every day from morning to evening; and we should remember that all schools are on vacation now.”
The statement said the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that countries increase the legal age of drinking and purchasing of alcohol beverages.
It said many countries have increased the drinking age to 21, and recommended that Ghana should do same.
“If before the ages of 25 years, the human brain is still undergoing development, then there is the need to strictly regulate the alcohol industries to protect the youth,” it said.
“The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that governs judgment and decision-making, and it is the last part of the brain to develop. This amongst other reasons people less than 25 years old are more prone to risk-taking behaviours like the use of psychoactive substances leading to addiction.
“This also explains why persons 25 years and below are particularly vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse, and why exposure to alcohol and other psychoactive drugs before this critical time of their lives may cause future substance use issue,” the statement said.
It said some countries such as France, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Kenya have banned alcohol advertising on television and billboards and urged the FDA to include billboards.
The statement said self-regulation promoted by the alcohol industry as a sufficient means of regulating alcohol marketing activities does not work, adding that, the evidence clearly suggested that the guidelines of self-regulation of alcohol were violated, resulting in excessive alcohol advertisement that was harmful to the youth and others.
The European courts has declared that restrictions on alcohol marketing are proportional to the benefits to public health, however, attempts by countries to restrict alcohol advertising and marketing activities have been opposed vehemently by the alcohol industry, it said.
“Government, policy and decision makers must leave a legacy that put children, the youth and future generation first and not to jeopardize their future with devastating health consequences- they will certainly not forgive us.”
The statement urged the Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgency take active interest in the development of the Alcohol Regulations to effectively regulate the alcoholic beverages industry.
It said the alcohol regulations when passed, would reduce disease burden on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) as a whole, adding that, “the epidemic that awaits us is huge if we don’t take action now.”