Thursday, April 18, 2024

NAFDAC’s Ban on Sachet Alcoholic Drinks Based on Unfounded Assumptions – MAN 

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has insisted that the ban on the sale of alcoholic drinks in sachets and Polyethylene Terephthalate bottles by the NAFDAC was based on unfounded assumptions and will not be accepted by the association.

The Director-General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir argued that adults’ access to affordable drinks would be denied if sachet and PET alcoholic beverages were outlawed.

The National Agency For Food and Drug Administration on February 1, 2024, commenced the enforcement of the ban on alcoholic beverages in sachets, PET, and glass bottles of 200ml and below.

NAFDAC’s Director-General, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye, explained that the ban was aimed at controlling unrestricted underage access to alcoholic drinks, which she maintained posed health risks to children.

NAFDAC noted that the ban, which targets the most accessible and affordable forms of alcoholic beverages, is expected to have far-reaching effects on the consumption patterns of alcohol in the country.

The agency added that Nigeria was one of the 193 member states of the World Health Organisation that reached a historical consensus on a global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol by adopting resolution WHA63.13 at the 63rd session of the World Health Assembly, held in Geneva in 2010.

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Adeyeye warned that the people mostly at risk of the negative effects of the banned size of alcoholic beverages are the under-aged, commercial vehicle drivers and riders.

But MAN Director General, during the 2024 Edition of the MAN Reporter of the Year Award/Presidential Media luncheon held in Ikeja, Lagos, on Tuesday, stressed that the packaging of alcoholic drinks in sachets and PET bottles was not the reason for the irresponsible use of the product.

According to him, the ban would force Nigerians to resort to local alcoholic drinks as an alternative, adding that the ban would also affect the revenue of the government and the economy of the country.

He further explained that having alcoholic drinks in sachets and PET bottles was a marketing strategy to make them affordable to Nigerians.

“Sachet alcoholic drinks is a marketing strategy; it is a means to reach the market and make it affordable.

“Children are not supposed to have access to it, it was clearly written on it that underage drinking is prohibited and should only be sold to adults above or within the age of 18.

“What is a child doing with it, that means you are not doing due diligence, and are rather celebrating such incompetence and using it as a basis to throw more than 500,000 people out of job.

“This ban is unfounded; it is not going to work. It is going to deny the government of the revenue that they are supposed to have. It is going to deny adults the right to affordable products.

“And it is going to open a door for an alternative that will not be easy to control. How do you control ‘paraga, ogogoro’ and so many of those drinks people consume?

“Everyone of us is concerned about the environment but the thing is that we must look for how to make it a win-win situation.  We should be more imaginative about how we are going to transcend. Up till the time of imposing the ban, you are still licensing products; are you truly serious?

“The regulatory agencies should be more innovative and support the industry in transitioning to environmentally friendly packages and products.”

Also, the president of the association, Otunba Francis Meshioye said the ban was carried done without due consideration for the economic and social impact.

He urged the government at the state and federal levels to “abstain from taking “harmful and inconsiderate policies that lack adequate inputs of key players that would be affected.”

Meshioye added, “Within the first two months of this year, a ban was placed on single-use plastics and Styrofoam packs by Lagos State Government, and NAFDAC, in a similar fashion placed a ban on alcoholic beverages in pet bottles and sachet below 200ml.

“The negative impact of these policies on the manufacturing industries affected as well as the huge number of workers whose jobs are on the line can’t be overemphasised.

“Additionally, it has become pertinent for government and the private sectors to work in tandem to revamp the ailing manufacturing sector, especially at this time, by exploring homegrown policy initiatives that will address peculiar challenges.

“There is a need to mobilise our local resources and more importantly, take deliberate steps to overcome the binding constraints that confront the productive sector. This has to be through frank conversations, effective collaboration, and bold decisions that radically depart from the norm.”

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