Govt moves to tighten the screws on liquor market through new law

Published On: November 25, 2018 07:21 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

“The proposed blanket ban without any study does not serve govt’s purpose”

KATHMANDU, Nov 25: The government has drafted a new bill to further restrict the sale, advertisement, production and distribution of alcohol. 

Though government officials did not divulge the details of the proposed provisions in the new bill on the record, they say that the new bill, if enforced as it is, will put numerous further restrictions on the sale, consumption, advertisement and distribution of alcohol. 

The new bill, if enacted, will prohibit the publishing of liquor advertisements in newspapers, expanding the existing restriction on broadcasting liquor advertisement to the print media. While the existing law restricts liquor advertisements in the electronic media and public display of such advertisements in the form of hoarding boards and bill boards, the print media have so far been allowed to run alcohol advertisements. 

The new move comes in the wake of the incumbent government’s growing censure against the media.  Though the government officials claim that the restriction is aimed at curbing the influence of advertising in under-age drinking, private sector representatives argue that the blanket ban on advertising does not serve the government’s purpose.  

While the government has proposed the restriction to control under-age drinking, there has not been any study in Nepal that can establish the causal relationship between under-age drinking and influence of media. 

“If the new law comes into effect, the market of advertisements will go down. If cutting down under-age drinking is what the government wants, the blanket ban on advertising in newspapers does not serve the purpose,” said Santosh Shrestha, the immediate past president of the Advertising Association of Nepal.

Ram Krishna Subedi, spokesperson for the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) which has prepared the draft bill, told Republica that the draft has been submitted to the bills committee of the cabinet for the approval and is likely to be tabled at the next cabinet meeting. 

Subedi said that the bill, among others, proposes to halt granting licenses to new liquor manufacturers, ban any type of advertisement of alcohol, and prohibit its promotion and sponsorship by any means. 

“The new legal arrangement is aimed at curbing the adverse impact of the open and easy availability of liquor in our market,” said Subedi. “Alcohol is one of the major factors contributing to the rise in crimes. Some studies suggest that 9 to 10 percent of crimes in Nepal are caused under the influence of alcohol,” said Subedi, explaining the reason behind introducing the new bill. 

“The law will regulate the time, quantity of sale, age for selling alcohol as well as limitation on the distribution and production,” he said. 

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