Zambian Breweries has welcomed the President’s call to stop alcohol abuse among the youth.
Speaking during his maiden State of the Nation address, Republican President H.E Hakainde Hichilema said government was steadfast in its quest to curb alcohol abuse among young people, adding that the National Alcohol Policy had created an enabling environment for a coordinated response among stakeholders to address the vice.
“To curb alcohol abuse, government has continued to implement the National Alcohol Policy, which provides for a coordinated response to address the scourge,” President Hichilema said.
Zambian Breweries Country Director Michelle Kilpin noted that the country’s largest brewer was alive to the need for government and the private sector to mitigate alcohol abuse among the youth.
She said it was for this reason that Zambian Breweries had created an annual ‘Smart Drinking Campaign’ to help spread awareness of the dangers of irresponsible consumption of alcohol in local communities, in line with government policy.
“We recognise that youths are the future of the nation, and therefore, we are conscious of the need to mitigate alcohol abuse,” she said. In this vein, Zambian Breweries is concerned with the widespread production, sale and distribution of unregulated, Illicit alcohol commonly referred to as Junta or Tujilijilis. This has, further, been exacerbated by the packaging and sale of opaque beer in bulk containers and all this going against the regulation on liquor trading.
“We are committed to engaging communities on the ills of harmful use of alcohol through our annual Smart Drinking Campaign. The theme for this year’s campaign is #CheersToResponsibleTogether and its focus is on direct engagement with the community on the dangers of illicit alcohol, underage drinking, alcohol abuse, drunk driving, and gender-based violence.”
“We are working with stakeholders such as Lusaka City Council (LCC), Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA), and the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) among others to help minimise alcohol abuse in local communities. Alcohol is not meant to be abused or used as a catalyst for violence, it must be consumed responsibly” she said.
“Zambian Breweries will continue to play a pivotal role in inculcating a culture of moderate alcohol consumption among the youth in the country to help protect their wellbeing. We will do this by driving positive conversations on alcohol-related issues in local communities and among stakeholders,” Ms Kilpin concluded.
“As ZB, we remain committed to supporting all efforts tailored toward the implementation of the National Alcohol Policy – NAP. We believe that alcohol is good for social cohesion, bringing people together for a better society and must not be abused or consumed by underage consumers.
The Head of State noted that the fight against alcohol and substance abuse was everyone’s responsibility saying that it should not be left to government alone.
“In implementing the policy, one of the measures has been the sensitisation of citizens on the dangers of alcohol and substance abuse. Government is also providing rehabilitation services which are available in provincial hospitals, as well as in public and private institutions in selected districts,” he said.
“Let us all get involved and help our fellow citizens, especially the youth. To the parents, let us not neglect our responsibility of moulding our children into morally upright citizens. To the church, civil society, and traditional leadership, let us all take interest and participate in the fight against this scourge. To the youth, we urge you to refrain from abusing alcohol and other drugs.”
President Hichilema further called on alcohol producers to implement initiatives that would encourage people to abstain from substance abuse.
“We implore you [the liquor industry] to put in place measures and programmes that will help our people refrain from alcohol and substance abuse,” he said.
“We further implore you to operate within the confines of the law. In particular, we call upon the local authorities to strictly enforce the by-laws that regulate the sell and consumption of alcohol.”