Alcohol policy proposed to promote responsible drinking


25-March-2013

Ms William-Melanie addressing guests and delegates at the workshop  

The recommended National Alcohol Policy was put forward by the Dac in a stakeholders’ validation workshop on Friday at the International Conference Centre.

The principal secretary of social affairs, Linda William-Melanie, said that the policy formed part of the wider national renesans sosyal initiative in an effort to transform society.

“It is in this context that this policy is being developed. Our goal is to address the challenges that are rooted in substance abuse, and we cannot talk about substance abuse without talking about alcohol consumption. Our task is a challenging one because we need to address a host of issues at a number of levels,” said Ms William-Melanie.

“First of all, the policy that is being proposed is aimed at preventing alcohol-related harm to individuals, families and communities and thus to ease the development of a safer and healthier drinking culture in Seychelles,” she said.

The policy seeks to address five main areas of concern: to significantly reduce the level of alcohol consumption in the country, to encourage responsible drinking behaviour, to ensure that alcohol products are manufactured under hygienic conditions, to ensure that children under 18 are encouraged to make informed decisions about alcohol use as adults, and to inform and educate the adult population on the consequences of excessive alcohol abuse.

Measures suggested in the policy document include tightening the regulations governing the manufacture and sale of traditional baka and lapire, restricting advertisements and promotional activities for alcoholic products, imposing harsher penalties for drivers found to be under the influence of alcohol, and to encourage all workplaces to educate their employees on the dangers of alcohol abuse.

“We all know that alcohol plays an important role in our culture, and is often used for socialisation, celebration and relaxation,” said Ms William-Melanie.

“We are also aware that the production and sale of alcohol generates substantial employment and tax revenue for the economy. On the other hand, alcohol abuse can affect health and can lead to poor productivity.”

Ms William-Melanie said that many families, and especially women and children, often bore the brunt of alcohol abuse, and added that people under the influence of alcohol were more likely to indulge in risky and unhealthy behaviour such as drunk driving and unprotected or casual sexual encounters.

“These are the issues that we need to consider as we finalise the National Alcohol Policy. We are not telling people that they need to stop drinking, but we should be promoting responsible alcohol consumption. We have already seen the introduction of new measures to restrict the sale of alcohol at certain times. This policy will widen our approach because our overall strategy is aimed at bringing about a cultural change in our society.”

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