Senate promises to make laws regulating alcohol consumption

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ABUJA – Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe , the Chairman, on Information, Media and Public Affairs, has  pledged the assembly’s  commitment  to making laws that would promote responsible consumption of alcohol.

Abaribe spoke at the 3rd Alcohol Beverage Marketing conference in Abuja, which dwelt on the theme, “Responsible Alcohol Marketing”.

He commended makers of alcohol beverages in Nigeria for contribution to the Gross Domestic Product and overall growth of the economy.

Abaribe said that in spite the sector’s important contribution to the economy, there was a need for effective regulation of advertisement of alcoholic beverages in order to protect minors.

“I am happy that this forum has brought together stakeholders in the alcohol beverage sub-sector which includes brewers, advertisers and consumers.

“This sector has so far contributed positively to our economy. However, the promotion of alcohol should be done in a decent and truthful manner that respects the Nigerian culture.

“We, at the Senate, promise to enact laws that will protect and promote responsible drinking in this country,” he said.

The Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc,  Mr Nicolaas Vervelde, said the regulation of advertisement of alcoholic beverages in the country was too restrictive.

“One of the of grave concern for us remains the advertising watershed for alcoholic in the broadcast media.

“The National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) advertising code stipulates that advertisement for alcoholic beverages shall not be aired between 6 a.m. and 8 .m. on radio and between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on television.

“We call on relevant authorities to consider some changes to the provisions. The Beer Sector Group proposes 6 a.m. to 5 .m. on weekdays for both radio and television.

“For weekends, we propose a restriction between the hours of 6 a.m. to 12 noon. This will help deepen our reach and promote our businesses,” he said.

Vervelde said that Nigeria could afford to relax its advertising rules regarding alcohol since statistics had shown that underage drinking in the country was relatively low.

The Director, Monitoring and Enforcement, NBC, Mrs Bunmi Cole, who represented the Director-General, Mr Emeka Mba, said the commission would look into the suggestions made on alcohol advertisement.

She encouraged stakeholders to send such to NBC so that it could be considered during the next review of the Nigeria Broadcasting Code. (NAN)