Govt. moves to regulate alcohol advertisements

The Government is developing a new law regulating the advertisement and promotion of alcohol and alcoholic products in Samoa.

The bill, which is in its draft stages, is expected to be tabled in Parliament some time this year, the Chairman of the Liquor Board, Tialavea Tionisio Hunt, said.

"[The bill] will have criteria for the advertisement of alcohol," Tialavea said.

"New regulations and control mechanisms for the advertisements [of alcohol to be put in place] by the Liquor Board will all be in the new bill.”

The law, if passed by Parliament, will replace the Liquor Act 2011.

The Chairman was asked for his opinion following concerns expressed by members of the public about the proliferation of alcohol advertisements in the media but also more generally. 

A number of people have questioned the Government’s role in controlling the promotion of alcohol products.

The Liquor Act 2011 doesn’t specifically address the question of alcohol promotion and advertisements.

The Alcohol Reform Report 2015/16 by the Samoa Law Reform Commission, it said: "Advertising and promotion of alcohol in Samoa is not regulated by statute."

The report goes on to say that: "There are no restrictions, for example on times when advertisements of alcohol can be televised or broadcast, which often occurs at a time when minors would normally be part of the audience.

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"Billboards and posters advertising alcohol are sometimes located very near schools and at bus stops adjacent to schools used by primary, intermediate and college students."

The Minister accepts that the concerns are legitimate.

But he said alcohol manufacturing companies also have a right to promote their products as long as they are done within the confines of the law.

"The only thing we will look at is are what is in the advertisement," said Tialavea.

"Who are the target audience, keeping in mind there cannot be any children in alcohol advertisements?

"But we do not prohibit any advertisement from the companies because they have their contribution to tax collections for the economy of Samoa."

In contrast to cigarettes, the marketing, advertising, sale, promotion and distribution of tobacco products whether directly or through the sponsorship of other products, services or events is heavily regulated under the Tobacco Control Act 2008.

Under this Act, various controls are imposed aimed at reducing the social approval of the use of tobacco, particularly among young people.

The advertising of tobacco is banned in books and newspapers printed in Samoa, and if printed outside Samoa it is prohibited if intended for sale or distribution primarily in Samoa.

The Tobacco Control Act 2008 requires the display of any tobacco product for sale to comply with prescribed requirements. Price notices must also comply with any prescribed requirements in relation to their size, colour, content, number and health message.

Furthermore, unlike alcohol products a retailer of tobacco products cannot display on the exterior of the retailers place of business the trade mark of a tobacco product or the company name of a tobacco product manufacturer.

The proposed reform follows a festive season in which concerns were raised about the effects of alcohol on violent incidents and on the nation's roads. 

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