Picture: RUSSELL ROBERTS

CRA Public Safety – South Africa

By Jonny Cohen
Covid-19 pandemic offers the government an opportunity to reform the sector.

Peter Bruce is way off the mark in lauding the alcohol industry’s contribution to the economy. If his assessment is based solely on numbers, then one would think he has a point, for the tax revenues the government receives from booze are substantial. However, in 2015 road accidents and fatalities cost the economy a staggering R143bn, according to former Gauteng chief engineer Kobus Labuschagne. And this does not count unreported accidents.

Alcohol also conservatively accounts for more than 70% of road accidents, so extrapolate that and alcohol cost the economy R100bn in 2015. That is just on our roads; add to that the widespread domestic abuse, rape, depression and sheer bloody violence associated with alcohol and the impact on health services and public policing, and the cost to the economy is likely triple.

I recommend that Bruce visit the Baragwanath Hospital trauma unit on a Friday night, or perhaps the Johannesburg mortuary on a Monday morning, and ask the officials there how much tragedy is due to alcohol. Right now, across the country trauma medics are reporting a staggering decrease in casualties due to reduced alcohol consumption. And yet through the years, alcohol ads have relentlessly pushed the lie that drinking alcohol makes you cool, and alcohol lobbyists claim to be creating jobs.

Covid-19 may have a silver lining if the government heeds the lesson and grabs the opportunity for serious reform. When lockdown restrictions are lifted I would advocate for a long-term ban on alcohol advertising; a zero blood alcohol driving limit; all pubs and shebeens to close at 10pm; increased alcohol tax; and diligent policing.

Article Credit to Business Live.