The NAFDAC ban and the conversation we usually avoid

A high powered committee of the Federal Ministry of Health, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission and Industry, and the Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers and Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria, had made several recommendations in December 2018.

Now, NAFDAC has stopped the registration of alcohol in sachet, small volume PET and glass bottles below 200 millilitres.

The Director-General of the agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said the agency will ensure that the validity of renewal of already registered alcoholic products in the affected category does not exceed the year 2024.

She explained that manufacturers of low volume alcohol beverages (200ml) with satisfactory laboratory reports already submitted to NAFDAC for registration before the decision, have been directed to reformulate their products to the stipulated standards free of charge.

Mojisola said, “Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria was also given a matching order to embark on intensive nationwide sensitisation campaigns against underage consumption of alcohol by adolescents below the age of 18 years in the bid to stem the tide of alcohol abuse in the country.

The agency is committed to the strict implementation of the regulations and regulatory measures towards safeguarding the health of Nigerians particularly the vulnerable youths against the dangers of reckless consumption of alcohol.”

The overdue conversation

Globally, alcohol use is responsible for 320 deaths every hour, and the impact is more among those in the younger age group…alcohol remains the most used and abused psychoactive substance among young adults.

BMC Public Health

The situation in Nigeria shows alcohol consumption and abuse respects no teenager, and there’s a high tendency that alcohol drinking may become a culture – especially knowing that there’s no legal age drinking in Nigeria.

There are long term implications of increased alcohol consumption among young Nigerians. For now, intoxication, memory loss, violence and sexual risk-taking are associated with current patterns of adolescent alcohol consumption.

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It used to be peer pressure influencing adverse habits of alcohol consumption. These days, it is a sense of freedom to do what seems rebellious and feel good about oneself. This sense of freedom is usually inspired by pseudo-wokeness – the spirit of change without consideration of better positive methods or compromise.

Freedom is not a concept whose discuss will come to an end in a bit. As new generations emerge, the concept changes. In this instance, it is something like “you drank alcohol in your youth, I should be free to drink more.”

The sachet culture

As of fifteen years ago, we did not have as many sachet alcohol in the Nigerian market.

In their market re-evaluation, alcoholic drink brands must have considered the purchasing power of Nigerians and thought to do cheaper versions of their products. The idea was probably to have cheaper versions that can be taken in a gulp and off you go.

Also, more and more Nigerians grew to love putting sachets in their mouths, just to have some heat to continue their daily business. Sachets are simple, in small quantities, pocket friendly. So why not? But these brands failed to recognised the growing prevalence of alcohol consumption among young Nigerians, especially teenagers.

The problem has been created. Thank the Heavens NAFDAC has taken a step to tie the hands of that growing culture.

But, NAFDAC is not the only employee in this job role. Families need to be part of this move. Teenagers – young Nigerians – aren’t prepared to deal with the risks of alcohol on their own.

The stumbling block is these young Nigerians know the long term effects of excessive alcohol consumption. At least, some of their parents already suffer them. But, they won’t stop.

Parents, older siblings – who are knowledgeable – need to make alcohol consumption an ongoing conversation in their homes. Talk to these young people, not at them. We know African parents are quick to pass judgement. But, this is not a time for judgement. It’s a time to build trust and connect with your kid.

As for young Nigerians who think alcohol consumption, hangovers, alcohol contests and games are cool… welldone.

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