Become an Activist Against Alcohol and Stop the Alcohol Marketing Lies

 

Domestic violence, car crashes, child abuse, poverty, ongoing injuries, mental confusion, depression, and ill health are all the consequences of alcohol consumption. I did not say alcohol abuse as any amount of alcohol can cause these problems in society, all over the world.

When the world was hit hard by the Covid 19 pandemic South Africa was the only government to ban alcohol sales and consumption in 2020. They did this for good reason – South Africa is one of the most violent countries on the planet, especially the cities of Johannesburg and Cape town, and the ban on alcohol sales was intended to relieve the pressure on hospitals, clinics, paramedics, and emergency facilities thanks to alcohol caused mayhem. It worked. All medical facilities were freed up for the Covid patients who needed intensive and ongoing care.

Alcohol Advertising is Dishonest

It is sad that advertising is so misleading and biased, towards the manufacturers of the products who want wealth, who want to sell more of their product than their rivals, to beat all competition in the markets, and to be the best and the wealthiest. The world revolves around money and wealth and addiction is an easy way to feed that wealth – encourage everyone to buy drinks and cigarettes and then you get rich. These people get sick, end up and rehab and then the alcohol industry is in cahoots with these facilities – the doctors make money, the psychologists and specialists make money and so the wheel turns.

The South African government is trapped by the alcohol industry which pours money into the economy, cleverly funding all kinds of fundraising initiatives and some of these are even campaigns to assist people with addiction issues! Did you know that the South African government actually tried in 2012 to slow down the issues connected to alcohol abuse with the announcement of The control of marketing of the alcoholic beverages Bill?

A Hidden Bill and FOMO

The government wanted to place a ban on alcohol advertising until the point of sale. No one knows about this bill because it was never released for public comment! Which makes you think – the government’s hands are tied – it is a catch-22 when alcohol manufacturers feed money into the government’s coffers without any real regard for the health of the nation! So in the end, everyone is harmed – the people, the medical facilities, vehicles crash, and so on – which is worse, no money going into the building of South Africa or rife addiction in all sectors of society?

So how does alcohol advertising work? It is designed to make people feel FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out – see the beautiful people on the yacht drinking good Chardonnay and having so much fun. See the masculine male on his horse with his beer as he herds the sheep. See the pretty girl sitting on her deck with pink champagne and laughing in delight. See the group of friends sitting down after a hectic day in the office for that relaxing evening drink that soothes the soul? 

“Alcohol advertisements thus focus on an association with the allegation that alcohol reduces boredom, loneliness and that it is the prompt for having a good time. The visuals used in the advertisements often appeal to the younger demographic of our society and often leave them enticed. The corporation would have successfully completed its mission in driving alcohol sales.”

No one talks about the harmful side effects of drinking – those of us who have stopped knowing how much better we feel without alcohol, and how much better our mental, emotional and physical states are. We read the articles about how alcohol causes cancer and we can see through the fact that certain big companies have teamed up with famous people to market certain brands! Our kids look up to these celebs and want to be like them so they too try alcohol and some of them become addicted later on. Most people are not aware that drinking any type of alcohol (even in small amounts) increases the cancer risk. CANSA highlights the toll that alcohol takes on bodies and how it affects those around them.

Alcohol Causes Cancer

The CEO for CANSA, Elize Joubert, stated that “alcohol consumption is associated with significant public health and safety problems, including causing a number of cancers.”

Evidence points to the strong links between alcohol and cancers of the colon, rectum, breast, mouth, pharynx, larynx, liver, and esophagus. Pancreatic cancer is also now a direct effect of drinking.  “Drinking alcohol causes stomach and breast cancer in pre-menopausal women. Alcohol can cause weight gain which also increases cancer risk. In South Africa, alcohol is considered to be the most widespread and harmful drug of abuse.”

We must remember that our children are protected by the South African Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It states in Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that children have the right to survive, develop and be healthy.  This means that even our teens should not be encouraged to drink. Mothers should not drink when pregnant and the effects of parents drinking a lot often mean that children are abused physically, mentally, and emotionally.

The Alcohol Industry and False Advertising

Let’s now look at how the alcohol industry climbs on every bandwagon to make the most of negative events and situations – how sick is it that alcohol companies actually make global crises a marketing opportunity? Think about the Covid 19 epidemic! And then, think about environmental days and events – in 2022, last year, the UN Environment Programme was all about “Only One Earth” to spread awareness about the importance of nature conservation and resource preservation for the future of all life on earth.

What did the alcohol industry do? It climbed on the bandwagon to shout out about its wonderful achievements in the environmental field! They all highlighted their “sustainability” efforts and the use of renewable energies and how they were recycling all their packaging! What about their continual production of cans, bottles, plastic, glass, alcohol? Everything that they use and make uses water, and soil and pollutes the air! They transport alcohol for miles, polluting the atmosphere non-stop with their huge trucks and ships, and planes!

Big Names are Conning the Public

Heineken was involved, claiming that their Nigerian breweries would be renewable energy driven by 2030. Accolade Wines from Australia said that they would make 98% of their packaging recyclable! The only reason why alcohol industries punt these so-called environmental successes is so that they can sell more! The gullible consumer thinks that this is amazing so they should support these brands. The gullible consumer eases his conscience to think that his drinking is actually OK and not a health, mental, emotional, or national issue!

The Australia Public Health Association has noted that “the World Health Organization estimates that between 2030 and 2050, climate change is expected to cause approximately 250,000 additional annual deaths from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea, and heat stress. Addressing climate change will require collective action; however, the alcohol industry’s involvement in this issue and its use of World Environment Day to promote sustainability initiatives which improve their profits is a clear contradiction.”

Sport, Men and Alcohol

The world of sports is another arena severely affected by misleading alcohol advertising which affects mostly men and their fans, and increasingly women and their fans.  It seems to be a masculine issue though because many shrewd alcohol companies want to link their products to winning sports teams and individuals – they want to show the world how their products “help” sports people or how their products support teams financially to do well. How did this all start? The Romans apparently gave wine to the people to stop social unrest and they would provide entertainment too to keep the people happy – a clever reward system!

It seems that beer, sport, and masculinity have become a kind of “Holy Trinity” according to Professor Steve Jackson, of Otago University in New Zealand. Men seem to chat more openly when sipping beers and the rituals of having a beer after watching a game are so entrenched in some societies that it is not seen as detrimental to health or welfare. What about violent fans though? This is another topic to discuss because they tend to drink a lot. There is often plenty of alcohol being drunk in the stands at the games and behavior can be seen to change the more people drink. They then have to drive home, full of liquor.

How to Stem the Tide of Lies?

So what can we do to stem the tide of alcohol advertising? We see the warnings on bottles of booze to not drink when pregnant, to not drink and drive, and to behave responsibly, but is this a ploy to make the drinking companies look responsible and even better? We know that everything boils down to money and wealth so we should not believe any marketing “greenwashing” by any alcohol companies!

We can write articles and blogs about the facts when we do our research about the negative impacts of alcohol advertising on global societies, especially the poor. Poor people tend to turn to alcohol to medicate and yet, they do not realise that they are worsening their depression and poverty in this same way.

Everyone has a right to highlight these atrocities in our own social platforms, on our community groups, and at markets and fairs. We can make posters and flyers and we can be a presence. Most of all, we need to join hands with huge NGOs against alcohol abuse and campaign to the government. We have to keep trying.

Any comments, please add them below!

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