Brewers, traders and consumers must band together to tackle the issue of underage drinking!

Alcohol continues to be abused by South African youth

Underage drinking remains a big problem for our communities affecting our country’s most vulnerable demographics. SAB is constantly working to ensure that there are better safeguards against this issue.

A 2018 survey conducted by HDI-Youth Marketeers has found that half of South African teenagers are active consumers of alcohol. The study, conducted at high schools around the country, reports that 15% of male learners and 8% of the female learners reportedly had their first drink before the age of 13. In light of these shocking statistics, the South African Breweries (SAB) has highlighted that addressing the issue of underage drinking is everyone’s responsibility. 

These are the words of SAB’s Director of Communities, Heidi Bartis, who says that in the interest of building a culture of Smart Drinking, South Africans should also take their responsibility to the country’s youth very seriously. “Alcohol is still the most commonly abused substance among youth. In fact, it is estimated that around 49% of the learners have consumed alcohol at some stage during their high school tenure.”

A 2018 survey conducted by HDI-Youth Marketeers has found that half of South African teenagers are active consumers of alcohol.

Bartis notes that underage drinking has been shown to impact brain development for individuals under the age of 25, and could have a negative effect on their mental health. “Underage drinking is an issue that affects one of our country’s most vulnerable demographics. This is why, as SAB we have included the ongoing fight against underage drinking into our Smart Drinking Goals, which aim to measurably shift social norms and behaviours towards smart drinking. This is demonstrated in our #RESPONSIBLETOGETHER initiative which we hope will create more awareness around South Africans attitude towards the consumption of alcohol.”

She adds that truly making a difference in this regard, requires more than the efforts of one stakeholder. As brewers and traders, it is certainly our responsibility to do all we can to ensure that underaged individuals do not have access to products containing alcohol. However, there is only so much that we can do, and we are calling on consumers to step up and help to build a healthier drinking culture as well.”

Acting against underage drinking

As Bartis explains, SAB is constantly working to ensure that there are better safeguards against underage drinking. “To start, we are doing as much as we can to ensure that traders are educated on the proper processes when it comes to age verification when selling alcohol.”

SAB a member of have implemented the Underage ID Verification Toolkit.  The toolkit was designed, to demonstrate visible and voluntary compliance by South African retailers to not sell alcohol to underage individuals, and to alert the trade, retailers, legal consumers, and related parties to the law that applies in this regard.

The Underage ID Age Verification toolkit, which is being made available to retailers and suppliers across South Africa, indicates the application of the UAD Age Verification logo – in its various applicable formats – on all alcohol marketing collateral. The logo developed allows for universal and collective application, which in turn will show the Industry’s combined commitment to ensuring that alcohol is not sold to anyone under the age of 18. “By supporting initiatives like these and ensuring all our products are labelled correctly with age-gated warnings, we can continue to do our part to reduce underage drinking in our society.”

With this measure in place, Bartis says that SAB reiterates the Smart Drinking belief that we all share a responsibility to build a better society. “We are very proud of the work that we have been doing to discourage underage drinking, but we know that our involvement is not enough.

In addition to this, SAB has taken action to ensure that it drives this message from its side as well. “Of course the most well-known measure that we have implemented, is to ensure that our “No under 18” logo can be seen everywhere from alcohol television commercials to point-of-sale materials at our customer outlets.

“To truly make a difference, we are calling on South African consumers and communities to join us in our cause. Parents can make a massive difference by taking the time to educate their children on the hazards of underage drinking, and communities can stand together to ensure that our children receive the right message about responsible alcohol consumption. In addition, we must all be vigilant and report instances where alcohol is sold or made available to minors. Bringing people together for a better South Africa #ResponsibleTogether,” Bartis concludes.