Parliamentarians have stressed the need for the nation to adopt legislations to regulate alcohol advertisement to reduce the rising incidence of alcoholism among the youth.
“It is better to build the youth than to mend the men of old,” Mr. Ernest Norgbey, Member of Parliament (MP) of Ashaiman said in a statement on the floor.
He said the initiation of the youth into alcohol through parental influence and the larger society could be controlled by the schools, religious organisations and the society as a whole.
“As legislators, it is imperative that we do something about the most common and biggest medium; Advertisements. Hundreds of advertisements on alcoholic beverages are aired on radio and television daily. And as if that is not enough, they are displayed on huge billboards as well as small ones. The alcohol industry is conscious of the power of advertisements so they waste no time in investing heavily in…. illicit alcohol,” he said.
He pointed out that alcohol advertisement was one cause of youth drinking, and that consumers took alcoholic beverages for reasons such as; socialisation, relaxation, and peer pressure and it could be concluded that advertisement had the power to influence consumption patterns.
Mr. Norgbey pointed out the use of celebrities who appealed to the youth in commercials to lure them into drinking, adding that children also watched and listened to the commercials, and that predisposed the nation to a catastrophe in the future.
Mr. Norgbey urged fellow legislators to help apply the laws of the nation to discourage the use and abuse of alcohol among the youth, citing that in the United States of America, the legal drinking age is 21 years, adding “hence we can do something about the legal drinking age.”
He called on the National Media Commission and the Foods and Drugs Authority to impose sanctions and deal adequately with culprits who disregarded the law.
Summing up contributions on the issue, Prof Aaron Mike Oquaye , the Speaker of Parliament, condemned the situation where some politicians allowed minors who had not attained the legal voting age and inferred that, thinking that they were of age may start taking alcohol to show that they were adults.
“If they start from the voters’ register, the end is alcohol consumption,” the Speaker cautioned, adding that “ let’s consider it at the Committee levels and bring it back for more discussion.”
In a contribution to the statement, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye, MP for Ledzokuku, who is also a physician, noted that 80 per cent of liver diseases in Ghana were related to alcohol, and stressed that the nation had to be aggressive in getting the youth away from alcohol.
He said there was the need to draw a balance between the business and health aspects of the alcohol industry, stating that at most, one could take not in excess of 20 units of alcohol in a week.
Deputy Majority Leader Adwoa Safo and her counterpart James Avedzi who spoke on the use of alcohol warned against its contribution to the loss of limbs, sexual escapades leading to unprepared parenthood and other social challenges. Ms. Safo called for a law, as Washington DC did for the youth to exhibit a form of documentation that showed they were matured before alcohol was sold to them.