Concerned over the recent ban imposed on spirit drinks in sachets and PET bottles less than 200ml, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has urged the federal government to intensify its activities and support in the form of access control, tighter regulations, but not ban.
MAN in a statement signed by its Director General, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, ban on production of alcoholic beverages in sachets and less than 200ml PET bottles will be counterproductive.
The association however, prayed that the ban be reversed immediately and replaced with regulations and access control such as establishment of licensed liquor stores/outlets by Local Government Areas (LGAs) across the country, adding that suspected underage persons (under 18) should be required to show Identity Cards to purchase alcoholic beverages as practiced in some other climes.
MAN also urged the federal government to tighten enforcement by law enforcement agencies, ensure increased monitoring and compliance checks by the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) and others to ensure strict product quality in terms of content and safety.
It would be recalled that NAFDAC had first proposed the ban and critical stakeholders including key members of Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN) raised concerns in a letter dated 6/11/2018 that included the assertion that the segmentation or packaging of alcoholic beverages in sachets and PET bottles is responsible for the reported increase of alcohol use among the underage is unfounded.
DIBAN however, was of the view that it is a reflection of a systemic problem of much wider ramifications.
MAN noted that “attributing the alleged increase in the use of hard drugs to the production and sales of alcoholic drinks in sachets and small PET bottles is incorrect; (no scientific or other studies have proven this claim), That packaging and sales of alcoholic beverages in sachets and PET bottles has not been shown to be the reason for irresponsible use in terms of quantity, intoxication and other menaces;
“That this ban will certainly lead to black market or bootlegging, influx and proliferation of fake and adulterated products; It will also damage local manufacturing and negatively affect the economy, as well as the social wellbeing of the people of Nigeria.
“ Notwithstanding its earlier objections to the immediacy of the ban, DIBAN participated in the preparation of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which was then signed on the 18th of December 2018 between the Federal Ministry of Health, NAFDAC, CPC (now FCCPC), Association of Food, Beverages, Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN).
Also, MAN recalled that DIBAN immediately commenced extensive support for the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC to undertake the advocacy, messaging, training, education, and other roles assigned to the Committee that was formed.
During this period DIBAN spent over N1, 000,000,000, as at December 2023 on various campaigns to ensure zero consumption of alcoholic beverages by the under aged and in promoting responsible use of alcoholic beverages among adults.