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Preventing Underage Drinking: Responsibilities Of Retail Liquor Licence Holders

As a holder of a retail liquor licence in South Africa, you are not just a business owner but also a vital cog in the wheel of ensuring responsible alcohol sales. One of the most critical challenges in the liquor industry today is underage drinking. It is a legal concern as well as a social responsibility. 

You may want to review why this matter is important to your business and the steps you can take to prevent or at least reduce underage drinking.

What is the Real Issue with Underage Drinking?

According to the 2nd South African Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (SANYRBS), alcohol is the most commonly used drug among South African youth, including those under 18. This begs the question of how these young people have such easy access to alcohol. The answer to this question is relevant to you, the liquor licence holder.

Legal and Social Implications

The Liquor Act of 2003 strictly prohibits the sale of alcohol to persons under the legal drinking age, which in South Africa is 18 years old. If a liquor licence holder is found guilty of this offence, they will face huge fines and a possible suspension or even cancellation of their licence.

From a social perspective, underage drinking contributes to the following issues:

  • Health Problems: Excessive alcohol consumption is harmful to the developing bodies of our youth. Addiction at a young age can have many negative health spin-offs later in life.
  • Accidents: When impaired by alcohol consumption, people are more likely to make poor decisions, which can result in them being injured in various accident situations, including motor vehicle accidents.
  • Violence and Crime: Again, impaired judgement can lead to domestic and other violence, criminal activities and other disruptive behaviours.

The Role of Responsible Liquor Licence Holders

Holders of retail liquor licences are instrumental in the fight against underage drinking and can assist in the following ways:

  • Compliance: Ensure your outlet complies with the law. For example, staff can be trained to request identification documents from suspected minors to verify their age.
  • Awareness and Education: All staff must understand the implications to your business and individuals of serving or selling alcohol to underage persons.
  • Community Engagement: It is helpful to build a healthy relationship with your local communities and schools to increase awareness about the dangers of underage drinking.
  • Reporting: Where others are buying for or selling to minors, this should be reported to the relevant authorities to curb this behaviour.
  • Support Programmes: Becoming involved in local programmes that focus on reducing alcohol consumption and other undesirable behaviours in the youth of the area is commendable.

At Leon Slotow Associates, we understand the challenges that face retail liquor licence holders. We can assist with new applications, renewals, temporary licences, alterations and more. We are also fully versed in the ins and outs of the Liquor Act and can offer top advice to help you ensure compliance and responsible alcohol distribution. Contact us today to get started.

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