The chairperson of the South Africa Drug Policy Initiative, Doctor Keith Scott has warned that alcohol abuse poses other dangers apart from causing an increase in trauma cases that put pressure on hospitals’ casualty wards.
The latest ban on the sale of alcohol was lifted last night after it was introduced to reduce the burden on the health system during the peak of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Doctor Scott says alcohol abuse causes a number of ailments.
“Apart from the COVID-19 situation, not only that alcohol is responsible for trauma violence, family violence, traffic accidents but it also causes a lot of diseases and also causes at least eight common cancers. It causes hepatitis, pancreas cancer and obviously heart disease and it can cause acute death and various brain disorders.”
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Doctor Scott also cautioned that restrictions on alcohol sales can have unintended negative consequences.
“A lot of people who want to restrict alcohol and increase the tariffs and the taxes they are using the lockdown as an example in terms of reduction of accidents and people presenting with injuries at hospitals and they are sort of rushing at the moment to say we must do this at a big scale after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed they need to be careful about that because it can introduce discrimination laws.
“It can backfire and get counter risks that you were not expecting, like contraband drugs that people use that can kill people, and people drinking products that have alcohol on the label but it is not alcohol, we heard that during lockdown as well.”