The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies has proposed stricter regulations around the advertising of alcohol and unhealthy food in South Africa.
In its draft audio and audiovisual content services (AAVCS) white paper published last week, the department said that the regulations should be introduced in an effort to protect the country’s children from potentially harmful advertising.
“The draft white paper proposes that to protect children, the regulator must in respect of the scheduling of adverts make regulations for all AAVCS licensees on the advertising of alcoholic beverages and harmful foods that are high in salt, sugars, fat, saturated fats or trans-fatty acids or that otherwise do not fit national or international nutritional guidelines.
While the white paper does not prescribe how these advertisements should be regulated, government has previously hinted at the introduction of ‘warning labels’.
In 2019, the Department of Health said that it is looking to introduce new regulations to allow for front-of-pack warning labels.
“This will assist people to know what is in packaged food because most people don’t know what they are eating,” the department said.
“The problem will then be how to deal with the food that isn’t packaged. People are excited to buy those combos – the chicken, chips and a fizzy drink – without knowing what is in them.”
The regulations were set to be introduced by late 2019/early 2020, but have still not been mooted at the time of writing.
In countries such as Chile, unhealthy products also cannot be advertised on Chilean television or the internet, or use toys, cartoons or stickers to encourage children to eat them
However, critics have argued that these labels impact on consumer choice. The issue has been further complicated by other health taxes, with more than a dozen governments now having taxed sugary drinks and food high in salt and fat.
Additional regulations around alcohol advertising has previously been mooted by both government and the opposition Democratic Alliance.
The Draft Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill primarily deals with advertising, including where alcohol may be sold, what times alcohol advertisements may be shown on TV, and who alcohol may be sold to.
In August, the DA called for the introduction of the Liquor Amendment Bill as a means of grappling with the country’s alcohol-related problems.
The Draft Liquor Amendment Bill proposes much more wide-reaching changes including:
Increasing the drinking age to 21 years;
The introduction of a 100-metre radius limitation of trade around educational and religious institutions;
Banning of any alcohol sales and advertising on social and small media;
The introduction of new liability clause for alcohol-sellers.
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