Civil society actors in Ghana, led by Vision for Alternative Development (VALD-Ghana) have expressed their support to the Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA) position to ban alcohol advertisements by celebrities.
They said the banning of celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages was an effective public health measure that would protect the health and rights of Ghanaian children.
This was in a statement signed by Mr Labram Musah, the Executive Director of Programmes of VALD-Ghana and copied the Ghana News Agency.
The actors expressed their displeasure with the section of the media and some celebrities who are up in arms fighting the FDA and the government for formulating alcohol guidelines aimed at protecting and safeguarding the health, well-being and rights of children and young people from harm caused by alcohol consumption.
The statement said alcohol marketing was largely targeted at children and young people; “this is a violation of their rights, as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Children have the right to grow up in a healthy environment, to be protected from being hurt, from receiving harmful information and from any exploitation.”
It said concurrently, Article 28 of Ghana’s constitution reiterated that children and young people must, in all circumstances, receive special protection against exposure to physical and moral hazards.
“This article agrees that every Ghanaian child has the right to life and education,” the statement said, and added that; “it is worth noting that these global and national provisions are all dependent on whether or not the child in question is healthy; thus, the child’s right to health must at all times superseded all other interests.”
They said as civil society actors with the mandate to champion public health against business interests, “we strongly support the FDA’s stance regarding hindering well-known individuals and celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages.
“Our core responsibility is to advocate for comprehensive public health policies that safeguard the rights, health and well-being of children and young people.”
The statement said It was appalling that some celebrities wished to engage in alcohol advertisements for monetary benefits or personal gains without recognizing its adverse effect on children and young people as well as the poor.
“They leverage their significant influence and huge social media following to entice young people who look up to them into alcohol consumption at the expense of their health and future,” it stated, adding that; “Every country, including Ghana, has the utmost responsibility to protect its present and future generations from health-harming products such as alcohol and tobacco.”
The statement said alcohol consumption among children and young people led to a substantial burden of disease, disabilities and death, which could be prevented.
“The science is very clear that alcohol use in young people, especially early-onset among minors, increases the risk of disrupting brain development, developing alcohol use problems later in life, unwanted pregnancies, contracting transmissible diseases, being injured, or even killed through violence and road traffic crashes.
“Since the human brain develops until the age of 25, alcohol consumption poses a developmental risk to children and youth, affecting the development of cognitive and intellectual capacities,” it stated.
The statement said: “We, the entire civil society fraternity in public health stand with the FDA and the government of Ghana in their decision to continue to implement the ban on celebrities from alcohol advertisement.
“It is a step in the right direction to avoid the incubation of a new generation of alcohol addicts and the associated diseases and the socioeconomic burden.”