; Fred Smith; 20 June 2024

Public health advocates across Ghana are celebrating the landmark Supreme Court decision upholding the Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA) ban on celebrity endorsements of alcohol advertisements. The ruling, seen as a major triumph for public health over commercial interests, has been warmly received by civil society actors dedicated to safeguarding the nation’s youth from the harmful effects of alcohol

Labram Musah, National Coordinator, Ghana NCD Alliance and Executive Director of Programmes, Vision for Altenative Development, Ghana led the commendations, expressing profound gratitude to the Supreme Court judges for their decision. In a statement he said, “First and foremost, we give all thanks to almighty God for this public health victory,” Musah stated. “We are grateful for supporting the interest of Ghanaian children, the youth, poor, and vulnerable from the harm of alcohol use and exposure to alcohol products.” The court’s decision, he noted, underscores the critical need to protect young people from the predatory tactics of the alcohol industry, which often leverages celebrity influence to glamorize drinking. “The evidence presented throughout this trial illuminated the dire consequences of unchecked alcohol marketing, particularly when facilitated by high-profile figures or celebrities,” he said. 

Public health advocates have long argued that alcohol marketing significantly influences young people’s decisions to start drinking and to drink excessively. Studies cited during the trial, including those from UNICEF and The Lancet, support the link between alcohol advertising and increased consumption among youth. Industry documents revealed marketing strategies that target young audiences by associating alcohol with desirable traits like attractiveness and social belonging. “This ruling is a monumental step toward reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, and various cardiovascular conditions linked to alcohol consumption,” Musah emphasized. “It will also help lower health expenditure and ease the burden on our national health insurance scheme.”

Advocates are calling on all stakeholders—government, civil society, media, academic institutions, and celebrities—to unite in protecting the youth from alcohol marketing’s harmful influence. They urge celebrities to reject alcohol endorsements and use their platforms to promote healthier lifestyles. The ruling aligns with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recent declaration that no level of alcohol consumption is safe for health, classifying alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen. By restricting celebrity endorsements, the decision aims to reduce the appeal of alcohol to young people, highlighting the importance of regulatory actions in protecting public health.

“We stand at the forefront of a critical battle, one that juxtaposes predatory commercial exploitation against the fundamental rights of our children,” Mr. Musah declared. He praised the section of celebrities who supported the FDA’s position and encouraged more to join the cause. “Celebrities, we invite you to stand with us. Say no to alcohol endorsements and advocate for healthier choices that will improve the health and well-being of present and future generations.”

The ruling is expected to serve as a precedent for other countries formulating public health policies regarding alcohol and other harmful products. The global public health community has closely monitored this case, recognizing its significance in the broader fight against harmful marketing practices.

Original article 

Post Navigation