ADVERTISEMENT

NAFDAC Sachet Ban: Why let facts get in the way of a good headline

#FeatureByDIBANMemberCompanies

NAFDAC Sachet Ban: Why let facts get in the way of a good headline

Let’s start by the most prevalent misunderstanding or misrepresentation.

On live national television, the Director General of NAFDAC promoted beer over spirits on the basis of beer having a lower % alcohol by volume. What are facts?

It is not the % of alcohol by volume that is the credible measure, but the amount of pure alcohol you consume. This is simple maths, but one that many people (including the NAFDAC DG) fail, or choose to fail, to understand. Many countries now legislate that alcoholic beverage packagings show the amount of pure alcohol they contain, expressed in standard units, where one standard unit is 10ml of pure alcohol.

ADVERTISEMENT

So, now you know, a bottle of beer contains more than twice the pure alcohol content of a sachet of spirit drink, and a bottle of stout almost four times the amount.

The latest WHO report on Alcohol Consumption in Nigeria states that of the units of pure alcohol consumed, 91% comes from illicit sources, 8% from beer and the remaining 1% from spirit drinks and wine. So, the NAFDAC's claim that curbing the sale of smaller spirit drink packagings will have a meaningful impact on consumption, looks at best, unsubstantiated if not deliberately misleading.

Where will yesterday’s consumers of spirit drinks in sachets turn to if their previous pack size is not available? Macharia Kamau of the Kenyan Financial Standard gave an insight soon after Kenya banned the sale of spirit drinks in sachets in 2005, he was clear, sachets were still available in the country, coming in through porous borders and there had been an explosion in the number and availability of illicit spirit drinks, of dubious content. Draw your own conclusion, will a ban on sachets and small PET bottles in Nigeria, drive financially challenged consumers further towards the illicit market?

Take away small sizes of spirit drinks and the very same day retailers will open up big bottles and pour out shots and it will be anyone’s guess what is in those bottles! It will be the poorest, who cannot afford the larger sizes, that will be most drawn to the illicit market, the poor, who by definition need the greatest care from society, will be exposed to the greatest harm.

ADVERTISEMENT

Are NAFDAC, through this current policy acting in a manner that contradicts their stated objective of improving the health of our citizens – you be the judge.

NAFDAC have decreed that spirit drinks may only be sold in bottles 200ml and above, they have also highlighted drink driving as a potential issue, so let’s look at the facts.

Despite urging from DIBAN members, NAFDAC has been reluctant to introduce the mandatory labelling of the number of units of pure alcohol contained in alcoholic beverage packaging, so many member companies have included it on a voluntary basis, surely it is important to help consumers better understand what they are drinking and the likely effects?

Labelling the pure alcohol content is widespread in other countries, and consumers are not only told the number of units in a packing, but they are advised a recommended a weekly limit.

The UK chief medical officer recommends people drink no more than 14 units of alcohol a week, spread across three days or more. Other countries recommend 14 units for women and 20 units for men.

ADVERTISEMENT

In general women are deemed unfit to drive if they have consumed three units of pure alcohol in a single session and men four units.

How many people in Nigeria limit themselves to just 1 bottle of beer?

Now let’s consider sachets and small PET bottles of spirits in the same context?

ADVERTISEMENT

In simple terms, people who drink spirit drinks in sachets or small PET bottles are more likely to be drinking responsibly and will not put themselves and others at harm because they are drunk.

But NAFDAC are suggesting spirit drinks should only be available in sizes of 200ml or above. A 200ml bottle of spirit drinks contains 8 units of alcohol, which would put many men 100% over the limit and women 200% over the limit if consumed. How does that encourage responsible drinking?

Following on, size plays an important role in portion control and in this context responsible drinking, which NAFDAC says is at the heart of their ban.

Research on the effects of portion and package size on consumption generally predicts that larger portion or package sizes leads to increased consumption (Ello-Martin, Ledikwe, and Rolls, 2005). This generality holds as true across most food and drink groups.

We all know that if we wish to lose weight we should eat smaller portions, it follows that responsible drinking demands reduced consumption and therefore smaller packings are essential for responsible drinking. Limiting the availability of spirit drinks to larger bottles seems to be in direct opposition to NAFDAC’s stated aims - you decide.

ADVERTISEMENT

NAFDAC claim that banning sachets of spirit drinks will curb the consumption of alcohol by children.

All sensible people would agree that children should not consume alcohol.

DIBAN and NAFDAC carried out an extensive joint study. The incidence of alcohol consumption by children discovered in this study was low, but critically there was no direct causal link between child drinking and spirit drinks in sachets or small PET.

DIBAN has the initial draft report which recommended that education and controlled access to any alcoholic drinks at point of sale was the most efficient manner of combatting drinking by children.

ADVERTISEMENT

The conclusion being presented by NAFDAC is that a ban, and on the smaller sizes of spirit drinks alone, is the study’s recommendation.

You will have a view as to whether children will find spirit drinks, beer or alcopops (e.g. Smirnoff Ice) most appealing, but why not take this challenge?

  • Or simply click on this link : Children drinking alcohol in Nigeria - Google Search
  • What you will see with your own eyes is that the biggest incidence is beer
  • Why, because beer is less harsh and easier for children to drink
  • Also, because adults have beer at home and share (The problem is clear)
  • The solution is in educating adults not to give or sell any alcohol to children

The evidence-based conclusion is that the ban on the sale of spirit drinks in small PET bottles and sachets by NAFDAC is well intentioned but misguided and not certainly not evidence driven.

In reality the ban is:

ADVERTISEMENT
  • Bad for Public Health
  • A godsend for the parallel illicit market for alcoholic drinks
  • Bad for the Economy
  • Bad for the revenues of the Federal Government
  • Bad for employment as millions stand to lose their jobs or livelihoods.

Sponsored by DIBAN Member Companies, sub-sector of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN).

#FeatureByDIBANMemberCompanies

Enhance Your Pulse News Experience!

Get rewards worth up to $20 when selected to participate in our exclusive focus group. Your input will help us to make informed decisions that align with your needs and preferences.

I've got feedback!

JOIN OUR PULSE COMMUNITY!

Unblock notifications in browser settings.
ADVERTISEMENT

Eyewitness? Submit your stories now via social or:

Email: eyewitness@pulse.ng

Recommended articles

Naira makes huge recovery against dollar, gains ₦88.23 on Friday

Naira makes huge recovery against dollar, gains ₦88.23 on Friday

These 5 countries are the world's worst cybercrime hotspots — Nigeria is one of them

These 5 countries are the world's worst cybercrime hotspots — Nigeria is one of them

IMF says inflation to further drop in 2024 -  Nigeria's situation remains dire

IMF says inflation to further drop in 2024 - Nigeria's situation remains dire

SHIB Coin Price Prediction: New milestone reached with SHIB whales now pocketing SHIB alternatives’ Dogeverse & Dogecoin20 as next 100x crypto

SHIB Coin Price Prediction: New milestone reached with SHIB whales now pocketing SHIB alternatives’ Dogeverse & Dogecoin20 as next 100x crypto

Top 5 Nigerian banks with the highest customer complaints in 2023

Top 5 Nigerian banks with the highest customer complaints in 2023

ABCON commends CBN's decision on non-oil export domiciliary accounts

ABCON commends CBN's decision on non-oil export domiciliary accounts

Ilori's appointment as CIIN president, beacon of hope for insurance industry

Ilori's appointment as CIIN president, beacon of hope for insurance industry

108MP camera in your pocket: itel launches new S24 smartphone in Nigeria

108MP camera in your pocket: itel launches new S24 smartphone in Nigeria

Xiaomi Fan Festival: Grab your favorites from April 1 - 30

Xiaomi Fan Festival: Grab your favorites from April 1 - 30

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT