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Inculcate responsible drinking culture

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By ERIK KINITI
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One of the campaigns that is inevitably emphasised during the festive season is on responsible drinking. This is with the aim of curbing drink-driving and underage drinking, and promoting the responsible consumption of alcohol.

With families gathering and young ones relishing meeting the aunts and uncles they have always admired, the unstated danger is underage drinking, which we find is most likely to start from within the home.

In a 2015 survey by Ipsos Synovate, 36.7 percent of Kenyan children aged 12 to 18 admitted to having tasted alcohol with almost half of them saying they received it from relatives at home.

Law enforcers play their part in ensuring youth do not get access to alcohol but we still see many reports of teenagers arrested while intoxicated, in possession of alcohol or in bars. Perhaps, we need to do more in the family unit to shield our children from alcohol before they turn 18.

For those of us old enough to indulge, it seems we have forgotten the basic rules when it comes to alcohol consumption. For instance, how many of us remember to eat before drinking, pace ourselves with water between drinks and take a taxi home when inebriated?

These might be sound very basic but are most effective tools for responsible drinking. Other than ensuring consumers control their alcohol intake, taking a taxi home greatly reduces the number of accidents caused by drink-driving. This is especially important as many of us join our friends and loved ones to celebrate. Let us challenge drivers to be sober on the roads and condemn drink-driving.

Collaboration with industry partners such as the National Police Service, National Transport and Safety Authority, retailers, alcohol manufacturers and marketers is a key component in raising awareness, promoting behaviour change.

Abuse of alcohol can cause serious problems for individuals, communities and the society. As an industry, it is our duty to promote responsible consumption of alcohol.

In addition to providing consumers with information and tools, they need to make informed choices about alcohol consumption. We have to promote our products responsibly to run a sustainable industry.

This year, the Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya, the umbrella body for manufacturers and distributors of alcoholic products in the country, committed to a Responsible Marketing Code.

Alcohol companies should be get involved in tackling harmful drinking as it affects the sustainability of the business. On the global scale, we are in support of the World Health Organisation’s target of reducing alcohol-related harm by 10 percent come 2025.

Although responsible drinking is not a sole responsibility of alcohol manufacturers and distributors, they stand to benefit the most from the promotion of such a culture. However, the most important thing is for us, as individuals, to develop a culture that promotes and rewards responsible consumption of alcohol.

Drinking should be reserved for people of the legal drinking age and done in the right manner and circumstances.

Mr Kiniti is the secretary of the Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya. [email protected]

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