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DTI, NYDA & SAB Recommit to Continue the Fight Against Underage Drinking

15 March 2013

Bloemfontein, 15 March 2013: You Decide, the innovative initiative designed to curb underage drinking, has reached nearly half a million teenagers in its first year. The   programme was created by the Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and South African Breweries (SAB) in a successful public private partnership. The initiative, which interactively educates on the dangers of underage drinking, has reached 384 260 teenagers in 652 schools, as well as 77 309 youth and parents in taxi rank activations in its first year. In addition, You Decide has run scores of community and teacher workshops, ensuring additional support for teenagers.

The dti, NYDA, SAB and the provincial departments of education in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, have committed to continue the fight against underage drinking through the You Decide programme. In addition the departments of Economic Development in Limpopo and Eastern Cape have also been critical in getting the project rolled out.

SAB head of Public Policy and Strategy Integration Bongumusa Makhathini said the company is concerned that underage drinking, one of the most serious forms of alcohol abuse in our country, has risen to high levels and is having an overwhelmingly negative impact on South African society. “It was imperative to partner with government and the NYDA to implement a programme that we believe will effect real change amongst South Africa’s youth. We are heartened that the You Decide programme seems to have started doing so,” said Makhathini.

“We are committed to playing our role as a responsible corporate citizen, as well as the largest liquor manufacturer in the country, to ensure we minimise alcohol abuse harm. The consumption of liquor by teenagers is not good for anybody. Quite the contrary, it threatens the future growth and development of our communities and our country,” he continued.

Chief Director of the National Liquor Authority at the dti  Ms Thezi Mabuza said for the programme to reach its true potential, there’s a requirement for everyone in society to play their role. “Liquor cannot be sold to teenagers, even if they claim to have been sent by their ‘uncle’ or ‘aunt’. Continuing to sell to clearly inebriated customers may seem like a financial win in the short term, but the negative consequences of a customer walking or driving home drunk, can literally make the difference between life and death,” said Ms Mabuza. “We all need to set better examples for our children, if we expect better behaviour from them, as they will continue to emulate our conduct, good or bad,” she continued.

NYDA CEO Steven Ngubeni said they remain committed to You Decide as the consequences of underage drinking are extremely dire. “It’s important to continue to discourage teenagers from drinking and abusing liquor at an early age as this puts their lives at risk, including engaging in unprotected sexual activities and in the process exposing themselves to the possibilities of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and engaging in crime and violence,” said, Ngubeni.

The You Decide campaign was largely guided by local and international research, and the result is a ground breaking programme that is a multi-faceted intervention grounded in the latest thinking on the clinical and psychological facets of this complex problem. The programme was formulated to target the four key stakeholders who influence a teenager, being teachers, parents, communities and their peers.

According to MD of implementing agency HDI Youth Marketeers Jason Levin, there’s never been a more compelling case to tackle underage drinking, with the South African National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey undertaken four years ago showing that 49,6% of teens (grades 8-12 or ages 13-18) admitted to using alcohol. The numbers, he said, only tell half the story, with the downside involving teens fighting, stealing, missing school, giving up on sport, raping and being jailed.

“Recent research by UNISA’s Youth Research Unit (YRU) focused on the extent and impact of substance abuse among 4 346 Gauteng high school learners. It indicated that 87.5% of Gauteng teens drink, or have friends who consume alcohol which is much higher than the national average. It also shows that two thirds of learners polled agreed that underage alcohol consumption is becoming more socially acceptable,” said Levin.

The partners behind the You Decide programme are, however, encouraged that the programme is making notable difference. A study by third party research provider E-View to establish whether or not carefully structured educational programmes such as this one can effectively reduce the incidence of underage drinking has indicated an a 3% absolute, and an 8,3% relative drop in teens’ alcohol consumption in communities exposed to the programme. The study however also revealed that parents are more in denial than ever about their kids’ exposure to alcohol.

As a result of the positive outcome of the first year of the project, it has been agreed to continue with the initiative and roll it out to other provinces. Engagements are continuing with several other provincial governments to ensure the You Decide underage drinking programme, is rolled out to schools that require the necessary intervention.

For further information, please contact:
Benedict Maaga
SAB Media Relations Manager
Tel: +27 11 881 8478

For further information on SAB’s responsible drinking campaign, Reality Check:
Twitter: @RealityCheckSAB


• The You Decide underage drinking programme encompasses a series of activities designed to demonstrate to teens that the choice they make now, can impact on their future prospects positively or negatively. The programme includes a series of school visits, which incorporate an interactive industrial theatre performance based on recognisable social settings for teenagers, on the consequences of underage drinking. It is left to teens now armed with knowledge on the negative consequences of underage drinking, as well as techniques to resist undue peer pressure, to decide for themselves.
• There is also an inter-school competition to consolidate and drive home the messaging; curriculum aligned lesson plans for teachers; a practical guide for parents; support resources for teens including counselling, reading material, a website, a Facebook page and a teen ambassador programme.
• Other elements of the campaign include teacher and community workshops, as well as tavern visits by HDI marketeers to ensure they understand the key role they can play in curbing underage drinking.
• Results of similar campaigns in Europe and America conducted by ICAP, the International Center for Alcohol Policies, suggest that strategies focused on any one of the factors that might prove useful in curbing underage drinking are not nearly as effective as a combination strategy. Their analysis concludes that multiple interventions provide meaningful additional benefit over single ones.


• You Decide has help generate an 8,3% (in relative terms) drop in teen drinking in communities touched
• 652 schools have been visited in five provinces by You Decide
• Close to 400 000 learners have received the You Decide message face-to-face
• Almost 900 000 teen guides and help booklets have been printed and distributed
• The You Decide programme reaches teens and communities through taxi activations, murals, community workshops and many more touch points
• The two main drivers of teen drinking are: 1. Social acceptance, 2. Escape from worries (home and personal)
• Over 5 000 teachers have been educated on the You Decide programme
• In some provinces (like Gauteng*) 86% of teens as young as 14 are drinking

* YRU/UNISA Substance Abuse Survey, 2012

This is a SABMiller subsidiary news release, it was first published in its local market on 15th March 2013.


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