Booze sales at petrol stations is a terrible, terrible idea, lobbyists say, and demand action
- The government should immediately halt the issuing of licences that allow booze to be sold at petrol stations, says the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance.
- BP started selling wine at a single Johannesburg location in June. It plans to expand such sales to other sites.
- Organisations concerned about alcohol harm say selling alcohol from forecourt stores is not only a terrible idea in itself, but sends entirely the wrong message.
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Until new legislation is sorted out – which will hopefully ban the practice outright – there should be a moratorium on licences that allow petrol stations to sell booze, the Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance says.
BP started selling wine from a single forecourt store in Radiokop, north of Johannesburg, in June using the slogan "wine on the go". It was the first petroleum company to receive such a licence.
The company hopes to roll the offer out to more stores, initially in Gauteng and the Western Cape, in its network of more than 500 retail locations.
See also | BP just started selling wine at a petrol station – and more to come in Gauteng and Western Cape
That is a terrible idea for several reasons, says the alliance of organisations concerned about alcohol harm.
Alcohol abuse is a significant problem in South Africa, says Charles Parry, the director of a SA Medical Research Council research unit on alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs – and drunk driving is already prevalent. Making booze more easily available is a bad idea in and of itself, he argues. Selling it from petrol stations sends the wrong message. And opening the door to sales at petrol stations without considering the available data, is a mistake.
The alliance has called for stricter measures around alcohol sales, including continuing restrictions intended to keep emergency hospital units empty during Covid-19 even after the pandemic subsides.
It hopes such stricter measures will be contained in the long-delayed Liquor Amendment Bill which, in its 2016 draft form, proposed an outright ban on licences for liquor outlets near public transport facilities or for "premises attached to petrol service stations".
Until that law has moved through the parliamentary process, a moratorium on petrol-station licences is appropriate, the alliance argues.
(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)
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