Driven by a relentless pursuit to promote smart drinking and disrupt the harmful use of alcohol, International Breweries Plc (IBPLC), a proud part of AB InBev, the world’s leading beverage company held the second edition of its Smart Drinking Roundtable Session.
The event which took place in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday, July 5, 2023, with the theme: Exploring Strategies to Promote Responsible Drinking Habits and Reduce the Negative Impact of Excessive Alcohol Consumption, was used to launch the second round of its Responsible Beverage Service (RBS), a sequel to the maiden event which was held in Lagos last year.
In attendance were eminent stakeholders and representatives from the Federal and State Ministries of Health, Federal Road Safety Commission, Nigerian Medical Association, Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Rivers State, and the Nigerian Police Force, amongst others
Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) is an intervention programme in Nigeria with the objective to contribute to the reduction of alcohol-related harms caused by drunk driving, underage drinking, binge drinking, gender-based violence and alcohol consumption by pregnant women.
During the event, the Corporate Communications Manager, International Breweries Plc, Eniola Alli-Faweya said, “At IBPLC, our responsibility towards our consumers and host communities is at the core of our business and remains unwavering. We share the ambition of the United Nations and the World Health Organization to reduce the harmful use of alcohol around the world. Through the Responsible Beverage Service, we aim to make a tangible impact on society by actively addressing the issues associated with alcohol abuse.”
After a successful implementation of the first phase of the programme in Lagos in 2022 where IBPLC introduced RBS and positively impacted over 10,000 beneficiaries across 5 local governments, Alli-Faweya elaborated that the company was elated to extend the initiative to Rivers State.
The RBS programme has successfully influenced the behaviour of the alcohol retail staff, bar managers and owners regarding the sale and service of alcohol. At the commencement of the RBS programme, half (50%) of respondents reported having written smart drinking messages in their establishments. However, by the end of the one-year programme, over 70% of participants had deployed smart drinking messages in their establishments, which represents a 20% increase over the baseline level.
In 2015, AB InBev launched the Global Smart Drinking Goals, one of which was aimed at the reduction of harmful use of alcohol by at least 10% in six cities by the end of 2020 – this goal was achieved.
In Nigeria, having achieved the second phase of this roll-out, with over 10,000 beneficiaries in Lagos, Port Harcourt has been chosen as one of the other cities where this global best practice will be implemented by the end of 2025.
The keynote speaker, and President, Society for Adolescent and Young People’s Health in Nigeria, Professor Adesegun Fatusi, enlightened the audience on the theme of the day, highlighting the importance of collaboration: “In the pursuit of transcendent outcomes through the Responsible Beverage Service and other interventions targeting harmful alcohol use, the paramount essence lies in forging unyielding partnerships. Only through the collaborative synergy of government bodies, non-governmental organisations, and vibrant communities can we promote responsible drinking and take momentous actions to curtail detrimental alcohol consumption.”
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Engr. Adebiyi Olufunsho (represented by Pharm. Taiye J. Ologun, Director, Pharmaceutical Services) thanked IBPLC, congratulating the company on its launch of the second edition of the Responsible Beverage Service. He stated, “The role of corporate organisations like International Breweries in promoting responsible alcohol consumption through evidence-based initiatives is highly encouraged. While recognising the socio-economic implications of the alcohol industry, programmes such as the Responsible Beverage Service are expected to uphold ethical standards that promote the principles of public health.”
The representative of the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Dr Victor Oris noted that “It is a paradox when a beer manufacturer is preaching responsible drinking, but it shows the ethical corporate responsibility that they are displaying.” He ended his goodwill message by commending the initiative and congratulated IBPLC for being one of the companies promoting the cause of responsible alcohol consumption.
A panel of four discussants made up of representatives of Deputy Corps Commander, Policy, Research and Statistics, Federal Road Safety Corps, Emmanuel B. Atogun; Secretary, Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria, South-South Branch; Dr Ebbi Robinson, Chairman, Nigerian Medical Association, and the Country Corporate Affairs Manager, IBPlc, Marian Reginald- Ukwuoma tackled the issue of alcohol abuse and how to stem the tide among consumers.
The Smart Drinking Roundtable Session is one of the CSR initiatives by International Breweries Plc to support the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) NCD Target 2 which aims for at least a 10% relative reduction in the harmful use of alcohol as appropriate within the national context (2015-2025). It also aligns with the United Nations SDG 3: Good Health & Wellbeing and SDG 13: Responsible Consumption & Production and its bid to champion responsible drinking across Nigeria.