• Thursday, April 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Sachet alcohol ban faces resistance despite enforcement efforts

The sale and consumption of sachet alcohol  and small bottles below 200ml persist, raising concerns about the effectiveness of a recently implemented ban by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

The ban, which took effect on February 1, 2024, aimed to curb the easy access and potential abuse of alcohol, particularly among underage individuals. NAFDAC Director-General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, emphasized the public health rationale behind the decision, citing the vulnerability of young people to these readily available alcoholic drinks.

However, the ban has encountered significant resistance from various stakeholders. Distillers and labor unions have voiced concerns about job losses and economic disruptions, while the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) challenged the claim of a collective decision-making process. The House of Representatives also intervened, mandating an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the ban.

Despite NAFDAC’s insistence on the ban and its intended collaboration with the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) for enforcement, reports indicate continued sales of the prohibited products in major cities like Lagos and Abuja.

Uncertain next steps:

Adding to the confusion, NAFDAC’s position on the ban’s status appears unclear. While Prof. Adeyeye maintains that the ban has not been revoked, she also mentioned awaiting “ministerial directive for the next step.” This ambiguity leaves room for speculation and potential loopholes in the enforcement process.

Global health concerns:

The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the potential health risks associated with alcohol consumption, regardless of the amount. They classify alcohol as a Group 1 carcinogen, placing it in the highest risk category alongside substances like asbestos and tobacco. The organization highlights the link between even moderate alcohol consumption and various types of cancer, urging caution and responsible drinking practices.

The ongoing saga of the sachet alcohol ban in Nigeria highlights the complex interplay between public health concerns, economic considerations, and implementation challenges. While NAFDAC strives to safeguard public health, the ban’s effectiveness and long-term impact remain uncertain amidst resistance and a lack of complete clarity on the enforcement process.