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Regulating Alcohol: Strategies Used by Actors to Influence COVID-19 Related Alcohol Bans in South Africa

1
School of Regulation and Global Governance, The Australian National University, 8 Fellows Road, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
2
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University, 8 Fellows Road, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
3
The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre, The Sax Institute, Glebe, NSW 2037, Australia
4
The George Institute for Global Health, Level 5/1 King St., Newtown, NSW 2042, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Paul B. Tchounwou
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(21), 11494; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111494
Received: 1 October 2021 / Revised: 28 October 2021 / Accepted: 28 October 2021 / Published: 31 October 2021
South Africa has used intermittent alcohol prohibitions and restrictions as a strategy to relieve hospitals of alcohol-related trauma cases and spare services for COVID-19 caseloads. Alcohol regulation is highly contested and involves a diverse range of actors who influence policies to align with their interests. This study sought to examine the strategies used by these actors to shape the COVID-19 related alcohol regulation in South Africa as presented by online news media. We found that the voice of pro-regulation actors is smaller and fragmented compared to opponents of the regulation as each actor seeks to advance their own interests. Despite the regulations initially being framed as a COVID-19 public health measure, pro-regulation government ministries, such as police and transport, perceive the regulations as a way of reducing existing (pre-pandemic) alcohol-related harm, such as crime, road-traffic injuries, and gender-based violence. The pre-existing failures in the alcohol regulatory environment and the current policy momentum created by COVID-19 could present an opportunity to retain components of the new laws and improve alcohol regulation in South Africa. However, there is a dominant and cohesive alcohol industry voice that strongly opposes the regulations, citing economic impacts, illicit trade and lack of evidence on the positive effects of the alcohol bans. Strategies employed by industry include lobbying, framing, and litigation. The regulations implemented under the guise of COVID-19 prevention have presented valuable lessons for alcohol regulation more generally. However, whether these regulations translate to sustainable policy changes will depend upon how and if the strong industry voice is countered. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol regulation; prohibition; COVID-19; industry; government alcohol regulation; prohibition; COVID-19; industry; government
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MDPI and ACS Style

Ngqangashe, Y.; Heenan, M.; Pescud, M. Regulating Alcohol: Strategies Used by Actors to Influence COVID-19 Related Alcohol Bans in South Africa. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 11494. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111494

AMA Style

Ngqangashe Y, Heenan M, Pescud M. Regulating Alcohol: Strategies Used by Actors to Influence COVID-19 Related Alcohol Bans in South Africa. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(21):11494. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111494

Chicago/Turabian Style

Ngqangashe, Yandisa, Maddie Heenan, and Melanie Pescud. 2021. "Regulating Alcohol: Strategies Used by Actors to Influence COVID-19 Related Alcohol Bans in South Africa" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 21: 11494. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111494

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