Wednesday, 29 May, 2024
HomeMedico-LegalSA liquor laws: Legal drinking age of 21 on the cards

SA liquor laws: Legal drinking age of 21 on the cards

The Liquor Amendment Bill, first made public in 2016, is reportedly being reconsidered by Cabinet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic – and extending the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 is reportedly under consideration. The draft Bill proposes several changes, including the introduction of a 500m radius limitation of trade around educational and religious institutions; banning alcohol advertising on billboards placed less than 100m away from junctions, street corners and traffic circles and introducing a new liability clause for alcohol traders.

According to Business Insider, Co-operative Governance & Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma is in favour of the proposals. "All of these I consider to be useful medium to long-term tools to reduce South Africa’s high rate of alcohol consumption to be considered by the legislature in due course," she said.


A TimesLIVE report notes that the director of the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (Saapa), Maurice Smithers, said some of the changes were being considered on a permanent basis by policymakers.


Speaking on Cape Talk, Smithers said the proposals will fundamentally change how alcohol is seen and consumed in the country. He said extending the drinking age to 21 would be beneficial to promote moderate and safe drinking.

“The human brain continues to develop up to age 22. It makes sense to delay drinking as long as possible,” said Smithers. “A lot of children hit university at 18 and are exposed to alcohol and it has quite a damaging effect on them and their progress through university.”

According to Saapa, only 31% of people in South Africa aged 15 and above drink alcohol, but “the majority of them drink heavily and in a way that is harmful to themselves and others”.


President Cyril Ramaphosa has been approached on the alcohol abuse issue, being urged to spell out in his State of the Nation Address what practical steps the government will take to ensure a ‘sustained reduction in alcohol-related harm’ after the lockdown is lifted.

The Saapa put the request to Ramaphosa in a letter, says TimesLIVE. “We cannot afford for it to be ‘business as usual’ once the pandemic is over, given everything we have learnt about alcohol harm during our battle against COVID-19 over the past year,” the organisation said.

The plea comes as data showed hospital trauma admissions in Gauteng shot up at the weekend – the first since the latest alcohol ban was lifted. Footage of partygoers ignoring lockdown safety protocols have also raised hackles in many quarters.


[link url=""]Full TimesLIVE report (Open access)[/link]


[link url=""]Full Business Insider report (Open access)[/link]


[link url=""]Full Cape Talk report (Open access)[/link]


[link url=""]Full TimesLIVE report (Open access)[/link]

MedicalBrief — our free weekly e-newsletter

We'd appreciate as much information as possible, however only an email address is required.