Thu, 24 Sep 2020

Ackerman lashes out at 'confusing, contradictory' explanations for tobacco, alcohol sales ban

Alcohol can be consumed safely and peacefully when have it delivered to their homes, which in itself is an economic benefit.

"The wellbeing that people get in being able to pursue their own preferences, whether it is drinking or smoking is actually the economic benefit of these things in the first place. But is not just as tangible as some of the job losses and the tax revenue that is forgone," he said.

Snowdon added that bans on the sale of alcohol also lead to deaths as more people experiment with home brews, similar to what in Mexico in May where people died after consuming moonshine, and this was just on the ban of beer.

He said it would be wrong to say there are no benefits from prohibition, in the US for instance when there was a prohibition on alcohol, cases of liver cirrhosis declined.

But that's not how policies should be made instead, they should focus on cost benefits and trade-offs.

Other countries that don't have an alcohol ban but have restricted bars and restaurants or introduced social distancing at those establishments, are not doing worse than South Africa.

Clark questioned whether it was ethical to use the pandemic as justification for an agenda.

"And that is one of the questions you should ask your government," he said to attendees of the webinar.

READ | Alcohol ban: Industry not heading to court yet but legal route is an option

He said the government was using Covid-19 to curtail an industry that contributes substantially to the economy.

"That suggests a temperance movement - in a wolf in sheep's clothing - pretending to deal with Covid-19," he said.

However, he clarified that there are indeed alcohol related problems but the issue is whether the pandemic should be used as reason to push another agenda.

He said this alienates the public and breeds its contempt.

"When you use prohibition as a rationalisation for Covid-19 and people quickly realise, that it has very little to do with the pandemic, then you wind up cultivating contempt for government," said Clark.

The contempt can be seen in the gradual evolution of the unregulated sector, the criminal enterprises, evasions and avoidances that happen when people look for ways to maintain their drinking habits.

"Then you have contempt [and] you also lose your law enforcement, you lose your judicial authorities and you lose your government authorities who are perfectly willing to be bribed to turn their heads to look the other way as people set up underground activities," he said.

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