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Alcohol

Whereas tobacco use is a truly global problem, alcohol misuse is more localised. South Africa has a very substantial problem with alcohol misuse. Members of the REEP team have done some work in alcohol in the past, but much more work is required. Currently research in alcohol is not well funded and most of the work that has been done in REEP, has been done on an ad hoc basis. We hope to increase this in future.


Chelwa, G., Nguyen, T.T., Ross, H. et al. 2019. Do Beer and Wine Respond to Price and Tax Changes in Vietnam? Evidence from the Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey. BMJ Open. (in print)

Blecher, E., Liber, A., Van Walbeek, C. & Rossouw, L. 2018. An international analysis of the price and affordability of beer. PloS one. 13(12): e0208831.

Lubbe, M, van Walbeek, C.P, Vellios, N. (2017). The Prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Its Impact on a Child’s Classroom Performance: A Case Study of a Rural South African School. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health. 14(8): 896. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080896

Vellios, N. & van Walbeek, C.P. (2018). Self-reported alcohol use and binge drinking in South Africa: Evidence from the National Income Dynamics Study, 2014 – 2015. The South African Medical Journal. 108:33-39. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2017.v108i1.12615

Russel, C and Van Walbeek, C. (2016). How does a Change in the Excise Tax on Beer Impact Beer Retail Prices in South Africa? South African Journal of Economics. DOI: 10.1111/saje.12123

The Economics of Alcohol Policy in South Africa

Increasing the excise tax on tobacco products has proven to be a particularly effective way of reducing tobacco use. In this study, which is funded by the WHO South Africa Office, we consider the economics of alcohol policy in South Africa, focusing on the impact that increases in the excise tax could have on alcohol consumption. The study considers long-term trends in alcohol excise taxes, alcohol prices, alcohol consumption and the prevalence of alcohol use, broken down into the three main categories of alcohol, i.e. beer, wine and spirits. The study finds that, despite some increases in the past 20 years, the excise tax on alcohol is much lower in real terms than the peaks in the 1960′s and 1970′s. Furthermore, the study finds that an increase in the price of alcohol reduces alcohol consumption in general, but especially among the poorer half of the population and moderate drinkers. Click the link above to access the full report of 275 pages.

Alcohol advertising in South Africa – A Trend and Comparative Analysis

In 2013 the Minister of Health introduced legislation that aimed to ban alcohol advertising in South Africa. This has been met with mixed reactions. The public health community has generally been in favour of the legislation, while the alcohol and advertising industries have been strongly opposed to it. This study considers advertising expenditure data, obtained from AC Nielsen, and analyses it in a number of ways. The paper concludes with an analysis of the tobacco adverting ban that became effective in 2001, and the arguments that were made at the time against the legislation. The relative importance of alcohol advertising at present (i.e. alcohol advertising expressed as a percentage of total advertising expenditure) is similar to the relative importance of tobacco advertising at the time that the advertising ban was debated in 1998, even though the media composition is very different. Click the link above to access the full report of 59 pages.