Kenya: Agencies Fear Ban on Alcohol Adverts

Regulation & Policy

A proposal to ban television and billboard advertising of alcoholic products has the Association of Practitioners in Advertising worried. At stake is the legitimate concern over underage drinking and rising cases of alcohol abuse by teenagers around the country, vis-a-vis the revenues linked to the adverts.

The national coordinator of the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse (Nacada), Mrs Jennifer Kimani, was quoted in the Press recently as saying the organisation is pushing for a total ban on such advertising to protect the youth from alcohol abuse. The move would cut millions of shillings in advertising revenue from the budget of advertisers, advertising firms and media houses, said the Association of Practitioners in Advertising chairperson, Ms Annette Martyres. While welcoming the concern about under-age drinking and rising alcoholism among teenagers, Ms Matryres, however, said the proposed ban was not the answer.

"The challenge with underage alcohol consumption is a strict enforcement of the law to prevent sale and access," she said. A ban on TV and billboard advertising would be putting the cart before the horse, and have knock-on effects on other sectors in the economy that are directly or indirectly linked to the alcoholic beverages industry. The Government would also have to forego revenue if alcohol sales decline, once the proposed ban comes into effect, she added. She explained that the advertising industry works with its clients to ensure that alcohol adverts are not targeted at people below the legal drinking age of 18 years.

Adverts are geared towards creating awareness and brand loyalty rather than influence people to start consuming alcohol. She proposed that Nacada convenes a forum for all stakeholders to discuss an all-inclusive strategy to deal with underage alcohol consumption.

The Nation Nairobi, 8th May 2007