Sunday, April 21, 2024

“Regulating alcohol is like herding ducks with chicks”

Dear Editor

A recent local headline says: “Liquor Association Goes to Court”. The article further says, “BLTA is taking the government to court over the newly introduced liquor trading regulations”.

An equally recent world headline in many papers says, “World Health Organisation (WHO) to Launch Campaign Against Harmful Drinking”. That article further says, “The harmful use of alcohol causes serious public-health problems”.

WHO will devise an international plan to address issues like binge drinking and alcohol marketing, Reuters reported May 22.

WHO further said that “alcohol problems cause 3.7 percent of all mortality worldwide and a host of social problems.

“Drinking to intoxication and heavy episodic drinking are frequent among adolescents and young adults, and the negative impact of alcohol use is greater in younger age groups of both sexes,” the agency noted”.

Gosh, must I wonder who has more credibility ÔÇô the BLTA or the WHO. I don’t think I will wonder more than one second. The World Health Organization is interested in the health of the world which includes my health and the health of my children, family and community. The BLTA is interested in the size of its member’s incomes coming from how much alcohol they sell and how many employees they retain to sell it.

Alcohol is an addictive, mood altering, mind altering, and behavior altering drug.
The Liquor Trading Regulations are but one part of the whole, new, and badly needed, Liquor Law which also went into effect on April 1, 2008.
Alcoholics drink because they are Alcoholics ÔÇô persons, male and female, who are addicted to the drug alcohol. How did they get that way? By drinking alcohol.

Alcohol is not a respecter of persons. It matters not how much education you have nor how good a job you have. If you drink enough alcohol over a long enough period of time, you too will become addicted and start acting like, and drinking like, an alcoholic.

A person addicted to alcohol is an alcoholic. They have the illness called alcoholism.
Alcoholics need treatment, not incarceration. Problem is we have lots of incarceration and no treatment. But, providing treatment and doing nothing about prevention is not very smart either. Prevention, Treatment, Aftercare and Reduction of alcohol availability are all necessary. If you are a Batswana and say you don’t care about a bunch of drunks then Botho goes out the window of a value that the majority of the society says it no longer wants to practice.

I have been treating persons afflicted with the illness of alcoholism for 33 years. The number of persons I have treated numbers in the thousands. I have never met an alcoholic who told me that they wanted to be one.

Shebeens and every person selling alcohol need to be brought under the Liquor Law. Bring them under the law.

Raise Taxes on alcohol at the point of sale. Use the proceeds from the Tax to provide treatment resources. Our whole society will improve.
Tourists don’t spend thousands of dollars booking reservations so that they can sit at the bar and get drunk. They want to see the big five and soon, the way things are going in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, Botswana may be the only country left in which to safely see them.

When you, the person involved in brewing, transporting and selling alcohol, look in the mirror ÔÇô do you respect the person that you see in that mirror? Alcohol may be a legal drug but what you are doing to earn a living destroys lives, families, respect of children for their parents and the health of the society.

Jim McDonald


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