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Proposed Alcohol Control Bill To Challenge Uganda’s High Alcohol Consumption

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Uganda, known for its high alcohol consumption rates globally, is facing a potential shift with the introduction of a stringent alcohol trading and consumption bill in Parliament. The Alcoholic Drinks Control Bill 2023, presented by Sarah Opendi, the Tororo District Woman Member of Parliament, has sparked mixed reactions from the public, with some viewing it as restrictive and contentious.

Clause 14 of the bill seeks to regulate the sale of alcoholic drinks by limiting trading hours to five hours on working days and twelve hours on weekends. The proposed restriction has garnered sarcastic remarks from individuals, such as Rogers Bingi, who commented, “I don’t think it can work in Uganda when 80% of the parliament [Members of Parliament] are victims.”

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The bill introduces stringent penalties, including a jail term of ten years or a fine of Shs20 million for those found selling alcoholic drinks before 5 pm or after 10 pm on working days. In clause 26, Opendi proposes a ban on packing, importing, or selling alcoholic drinks in sachets or plastic bottles, with a fine not exceeding one thousand currency points (Shs20 million) or imprisonment for up to five years.

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Furthermore, the bill addresses the employment of individuals below the age of 18 in premises related to alcoholic drinks, proposing a fine not exceeding one thousand currency points (Shs20 million) or imprisonment for up to two years. It also prohibits the sale or supply of alcoholic drinks to individuals below the age of 18, with a penalty of a fine not exceeding two thousand currency points (Shs40 million) or imprisonment for up to three years.

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Additionally, Opendi aims to regulate online alcohol sales by requiring sellers to implement age verification mechanisms. Failure to comply may result in a fine not exceeding two hundred currency points (Shs4 million) or imprisonment for up to five years.

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The proposed bill challenges Uganda’s drinking culture and aims to address concerns related to underage drinking, working hours of alcohol establishments, and the packaging of alcoholic beverages.

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