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The New Kenya Alcohol Law: Fair or Draconian

  • Broadcast in Politics Progressive



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The Bill passed by Parliament last week, if signed into law by President Kibaki, will radically change the manufacture, consumption, advertising, bar licensing, drinking hours to warning signs on beer bottles. It was sponsored by Naivasha MP John Mututho, and seeks to regulate every aspect of the alcohol business. The Bill will have far-reaching implications for the multi-billion shilling alcoholic beverage industry, right from the multinational manufacturers to the humble estate bar. Billboards promoting alcoholic drinks and media promotions and campaigns ? in which consumers win prizes ? will be outlawed. Consumers will not be allowed to buy alcohol in the supermarket or corner shop, popularly known as ?wines and spirits? ? they will have to go to the bar for that. The Bill, the Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill passed by MPs last week, tries to protect thousands of Kenyans from the harmful effects of adulterated drinks such as ?kumi kumi?. Youth in parts of the country are said to have become zombies from consuming such drinks. The proposed law legalises traditional drinks such as chang?aa, muratina, busaa and mnazi. However, it requires that the drinks be professionally brewed, distilled, packaged and sold at licensed places in bottles above 250ml. ?The alcoholic drink previously known as chang?aa shall only be manufactured, packed, sold and distributed in glass bottles (of 250ml),? the Bill states. On advertising, the Bill prohibits the promotion of alcoholic drinks with the aim of increasing its consumption. It says it is illegal to promote ?any alcoholic drinks in such a manner as to encourage more consumption of an alcoholic drink in order to win an award or prize?. This means that fancy adverts that glamorise alcoholic drinks, linkage to social success and therapeutic value will be no more. It also means that many promotions run by giant brewers like the