The Vision for Alternative Development (VALD) a non-governmental organization lauds the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) on its recent decision meted on the manufacturers of Adonko Bitters after a concert organized by the Company at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Easter Monday April 17, 2017 which left most of the youth passing out as a result of excessive intake of the alcoholic product.
In a statement issued by FDA stating that “the criterion for gaining access to the concert was solely on condition that each individual purchased a 750ml bottle of the alcoholic beverage at a cost of GH¢10, a situation which resulted in the alcoholic beverage being sold to minors as well. It also resulted in excessive consumption, clearly putting the consumers at risk of flouting the caution of drinking responsibly”.
It is clear from the FDA guidelines that Adonko Bitters violated the rules that governs their operations and engagement with the public. Section 3.2.19 of the FDA guidelines for the advertisement of food products, states: “No alcoholic beverage shall be advertised in relation to a public function where persons under the legal drinking age are likely to attend.”
and section 3.2.12 also states that “for the Advertisement of Food products, which prohibit the use of well-known personalities in the marketing of alcoholic beverages”.
VALD is highly surprised about some public comments to the effect that the action taken by FDA is harsh, unfair and some even went as far as claiming that FDA is collapsing businesses.
We have a different opinion: some learned men are now encouraging lawlessness or are they saying that the actions by Adonko Bitters was right and must go unpunished. Is it wrong to suspend the registration and advertisement license of Angel Group of Companies whilst investigations into the incident continues?
We think that Ghanaians should rather be worry about the influx of advertisement of alcoholic beverages which have taken over our airwaves in recent times. Only few programmes on TV and radio are aired without an advert on alcoholic products. We must be mindful that our kids who are the future generations are glued to TV every day from morning to evening.
The harmful use of alcohol has been a cause for great concern globally and even at the national level- Our Parliamentarians recently called for regulation of the industry on our airwaves. The current trend of consumption and the inadequate regulation of alcohol advert in both the print and electronic media is a source of worry. The misuse of alcohol causes many problems ranging from serious health and socio-economic effects which ends up affecting the family, community and society as a whole. Consumption of alcohol is one of the major cause of Non Communicable Diseases in the world today.
Scientific evidence have proven that before the ages of 25 years, the human brain is still undergoing development. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain that governs judgment and decision-making, and it is the last part of the brain to develop. This amongst other reasons why people less than 25 years old are more prone to risk-taking behaviours like the use of psychoactive substances leading to addiction. This also explains why persons 25 years and below are particularly vulnerable to alcohol and drug abuse, and why exposure to alcohol and other psychoactive drugs before this critical time of their lives may cause future substance use issue.
It is important to also note that the world over have recognized the harm alcohol imposes on us as human, that is why the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) specifically Goal 3.5 states “Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol”. Alcohol is a major obstacle to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We are very much concerned about the medium to long term effects of alcohol use which will negatively affect the development of our dear nation.
We at VALD supports the action of the FDA because its position is for public health unlike the manufacturer whose interest is to make profit at the expense of its consumers.
We urge the FDA to be resolute and protect the good people of Ghana. We also call upon all well-meaning Ghanaians and civil society organizations to support this cause to save present and future generations from the devastating health and economical hazards.
We also wish to urge the Ministry of Health to as a matter of urgency take active interest in the development of the Alcohol Regulation to effectively regulate the alcohol industry.