The rate of advertisements of alcoholic beverages in Ghana is on the rise and the phenomenon is becoming a worry to many people. This is because one of its effects is the high increase of alcoholic consumption among the youth.
Alcoholic advertisements could be heard on radio and television almost every minute on different channels and seen everywhere in newspapers and on billboards nationwide.
Regrettably, many of the products being advertised are said to be aphrodisiac—arousing, increasing, or intensifying sexual desire.
This notion that masculinity and sexual attractiveness are linked to alcohol consumption is motivating an increasing number of youth to troop to drinking bars for aphrodisiac bitters. These adverts have a copy that runs like this:” if you drink [name of product], you will become a real man, if you take [product], you will be able to satisfy your woman in bed” and other such unprintable words.
According to the National Media Commission (NMC) Guidelines on Broadcasting Standards on Alcoholic Drinks, “Advertisement should neither claim nor suggest that any alcoholic drink can contribute towards sexual or can enhance sexual attractiveness” as expresses provided in the Liquor Licensing Act 1970 (311) of Ghana.
Curiously, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the advertisement regulatory bodies in in the country have turned a blind eye to this flagrant disregard for the law.
Similarly, the NMC Broadcasting Standards provide, among other things, that “advertisement for alcoholic drinks should not feature any personality whose examples children under 18 years are likely to emulate or who has appeal to persons under age.
Whilst recognising the fact that the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has placed a ban on some celebrities from endorsing and alcohol adverts, there are other famous radio and TV presenters who continue to endorse alcoholic beverages on their shows. No wonder a lot of teenagers are abusing alcohol in this country.
There is also no regulation on the time when adverts on alcohol can be aired and the broadcast media is filled with alcoholic adverts from morning to primetime with no regard to whether children are listening or watching.
Leaving close to a pub, I have seen promising young men who have totally become social misfit because of alcohol addiction because they took to drinking what the call sexual boosters.
Alcohol addiction can cause liver and kidney diseases such as hepatitis, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, including hypertension, dementia, depression and seizure in people who do not have epilepsy. Alcohol abuse by pregnant women could lead to permanent brain damages in their babies.
One may argue that the alcoholic industry is a source of revenue for government and even a source of employment to many. But is it worth the amount of money government loses in providing healthcare for alcoholic associated diseases and the loss of valuable human resource who either die or become social burden?
Alcohol plays an important role in many cultures in Ghana. Alcoholic drinks are used during almost all stages of one’s life from the cradle to the grave. Traditionally, alcohol is used in the performance of libation during naming ceremonies, puberty, marriage and funeral rites. Whether in a celebration or sorrowful mood, alcoholic beverages such as ‘akpeteshie’, ‘schnapp’, beer, Guinness and the other numerous local bitters sometimes become unavoidable.
I therefore appeal to government, the FDA, the media and the general public to ensure that advertisements on alcoholic beverages are duly regulated in accordance with the standards of the law to ensure sanity in our nation and save the lives of our irreplaceable youth from perishing, for if such disturbing trends discussed above are allowed to persists Ghana will be the loser in the long run.
Source: Evelyn Addor/ Public Agenda