New legal liquor drinking and selling age of 21 years?

Photo: Moeketsi Mogotsi

The Department of Trade and Industry has released two Bills for public comment that will have a major effect on society in general. One is the draft Liquor Amendment Bill and the other is the draft National Gambling Amendment Bill.

With regard to the Liquor Bill, the department said the changes were a result of the manner in which the liquor industry conducts itself, societal behaviour towards liquor and a possible ineffectiveness of the current liquor regulatory framework to address aspects of alcohol abuse.

One of the aspects that attracted immediate attention was increasing the minimum legal age at which alcohol can be purchased and consumed, which will increase from 18 to 21 years.

The department said this is to delay the introduction of liquor consumption by the youth. It said research has shown that teenage drinking is on the increase and that the younger people start drinking, the more likely they will experience problems as a result of heavy drinking.

In an effort to standardise licensing requirements, new liquor premises should be located 500m away from schools, places of worship, recreational facilities, rehabilitation or treatment centres, residential areas and public institutions.

The new Bill will hold that premises already licensed within the 500m radius of the above-mentioned and premises in high-density locations will have to comply with the norms and standards issued from time to time regarding, among others, trading hours, noise, nuisance, and pollution.

Licensing authorities may thus impose stricter trading conditions, for example, that trading hours should not coincide with school hours.

Other aspects the new draft Bill addresses are to provide for restrictions on advertising of liquor or methylated spirits, to provide for the establishment of an internal review mechanism, and to include new transgressions.

These transgressions will include illegal manufacturing of and trading in liquor, the labelling of liquor products, and providing liquor products with a very high alcohol content.

With regard to the draft National Gambling Amendment Bill, the amendments aim to provide for the recognition of a self-regulating body of the horseracing industry. It also provides for an electronic form of bingo and provides for more strengthened regulations for casinos, limited payout machines, and bingo.

The amendments also provide for certain new transgressions of the act. – André Grobler