The debate over the ban on alcoholic beverages packaged in sachets and PET bottles less than 200ml has intensified as Segun Ajayi-Kadir, Director General of The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, expressed concern about the recent enforcement of the prohibition.
The origins of the ban trace back to a proposal by NAFDAC, which faced objections from key stakeholders, including the Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN). DIBAN argued against the ban, stating that packaging size isn’t the root cause of underage alcohol consumption and warned of potential negative economic and social impacts, including the rise of black markets and fake products.
Despite initial objections, DIBAN participated in the development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with government agencies and signed it with reservations. Post-MOU, DIBAN collaborated with health authorities on advocacy and education campaigns, investing significant resources to promote responsible alcohol consumption and prevent underage drinking.
However, concerns persisted, leading to the formation of a Technical Sub-Committee by the Ministerial Committee. The Sub-Committee identified gaps in the MOU and recommended a strategic plan to address alcohol misuse, emphasizing the need for evidence-based policies and stronger inter-agency collaboration.
Following the submission of an independent research report recommending access control instead of an outright ban, consensus emerged among committee members. They advocated for collaborative efforts to eliminate underage drinking, improved regulations, and support for local industries while ensuring product quality and safety.
Nevertheless, challenges remain in implementing strategies to combat underage drinking, notably NAFDAC’s determination to enforce the ban by 2024. Manufacturers argue that the ban would harm local businesses and contradict government efforts to support entrepreneurship. They propose alternative measures such as licensed liquor outlets, age verification requirements, and stricter enforcement to promote responsible consumption and protect the economy.
In their plea to the government, the Manufacturers Association calls for a reversal of the ban and urges the adoption of access control measures alongside tighter regulations. They emphasize the importance of evidence-based policymaking and highlight the potential consequences of hasty decisions on industry operators, workers, and the economy at large.