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Sat, 22 Jun 2024 Feature Article

Why Ghana's Court Ruling on Celebrities and Alcohol Is a Wake-Up Call for Parents

Why Ghana's Court Ruling on Celebrities and Alcohol Is a Wake-Up Call for Parents
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The recent court decision upholding the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)'s directive against celebrities endorsing alcoholic drinks has sparked debate. While some argue this restricts freedom of expression, the court's decision, delivered on June 19th, 2024, is grounded in sound reasoning and a crucial understanding of the impact of celebrity influence on young minds.

The case, filed at the Supreme Court of Ghana on November 11th, 2022, has been a significant milestone in the country's regulatory landscape. The court's verdict recognizes the profound influence celebrities have on young minds, particularly adolescents. Many young people look up to celebrities as role models, emulating their behavior, dress, speech, and even lifestyle choices. This phenomenon is explained by social learning theory, a cornerstone of developmental psychology. The theory explains that, individuals learn by observing and imitating others, especially those they admire. This theory resonates powerfully in the context of celebrity influence. Adolescents, in their quest for identity and belonging, often turn to celebrities for guidance and validation. They see them as exemplars of success and social status. This perception makes the endorsement of alcoholic beverages by these idols particularly dangerous. In illustration, young persons may see their favorite musician promoting a certain brand of beer and subconsciously perceive it as a seal of approval, making them more likely to try it.

Again, research consistently demonstrates that alcohol use during adolescence has significant negative impacts on physical and mental health, including brain development, academic performance, and increased risk of addiction.

The court, in its wisdom, recognized this risk and prioritized the protection of young people. The court's decision is not about censorship; it's about safeguarding the future generation. It acknowledges the vulnerability of adolescents and the powerful influence of celebrity culture. The court understands that, in this context, an advertisement is not just a commercial message but a potent message of social status and desirability.

By restricting these endorsements, the court is helping to protect young people from harmful influences and promote a healthier culture."

This ruling sends a crucial message. It empowers the FDA to prioritize the health and well-being of young people, discouraging the normalization of alcohol consumption amongst them.

In conclusion, the court's decision is a crucial step in protecting the well-being of young Ghanaians. By recognizing the powerful influence of celebrity culture and the potential harms of alcohol consumption, the court has sent a strong message about the need for responsible media portrayal and the importance of safeguarding the health and well- being of young people. As a society, we must continue to prioritize the needs of our youth and ensure that they are protected from harmful influences. The future of our country depends on it.

Gilbert Asamoah Ayebeng
Graduate student-M.Phil. Developmental Psychology University of Ghana, Legon

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