Botswana alcohol policy and the presidential levy controversy

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AimTo assess the state of alcohol policy in Botswana in the context of a substantial levy imposed on alcohol sales by the President.Design, measurementsAnalysis of policy documents and media reports to describe the drivers of policy formation.Setting, participantsBotswana.FindingsLegislation aimed at addressing the problem of excessive consumption of alcohol in the country has been proposed and enacted since independence in 1966 and a draft national alcohol policy is currently being debated. The policy recognizes the need to protect the rights of adult citizens of Botswana to purchase and consume alcohol in a safe and well-regulated manner and the role of government in ensuring that vulnerable members of the community are protected against the impact of harmful use of alcohol. In 2008, controversy erupted over the proposal by the President of the country to impose a 70% levy on alcohol products, later reduced to 30%. The industry responded by threatening to go to court and has since focused their response on what they claim to be serious economic losses due to reduced consumption of their products.ConclusionsThe ongoing controversy in Botswana calls attention to the role of the industry in influencing the debate on alcohol and the need to keep in mind overall public health interest in efforts to develop and implement a national alcohol policy.

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