L-R: Babatunde Asiyanbi, Head, Compliance & Enforcement Department, Lagos State Safety Commission; Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Mrs Temitope Oguntokun; Keynote Speaker and President, Society for Adolescent and Young people’s Health in Nigeria, Prof. Adesegun Fatusi; Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha and Director, Food and Drug Services Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs Olubunmi Aribeana, at the INTERNATINAL BREWERIES PLC "Smart Drinking Roundtable Session" event held in Lagos.
In furtherance of its commitment to Smart Drinking and implementation of effective and collaborative solutions to disrupt harmful drinking, International Breweries Plc, a proud member of Anheuser-Busch InBev, a global beer brand, organised a Smart Drinking Roundtable Session. This session brought together key stakeholders in the health & safety, transport, and hospitality sectors to discuss responsible drinking with the theme: Enhancing the Social Consciousness around Responsible Beverage Service: A Collective Responsibility of Stakeholders.
The event which held in Lagos was used to launch the Responsible Beverage Service in Nigeria with 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, Lagos State Traffic Management Agency (LASTMA), Lagos State Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality, Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, and the Lagos State Safety Commission in attendance.
Responsible Beverage Service (RBS) is a first of its kind intervention programme in Nigeria with the objective of contributing to the reduction of alcohol-related harms caused by drunk driving, underage drinking, binge drinking, gender-based violence and alcohol consumption by pregnant women.
A key component of the RBS program will be the training of owners and managers of bars and alcohol sales outlets, alcohol service staff, and event centre managers. Community champions and health workers will also be trained in the provision of alcohol health literacy to pregnant women.
In his welcome address, Managing Director, International Breweries Plc, Hugo Rocha, said, “Since 2018, Smart Drinking has, more and more, become part of our DNA and we continue to strive to bring that culture to our communities. Our commitment extends far beyond saying “drink responsibly”: it spans our Global Smart Drinking Goals, the work of the AB InBev Foundation, the commitments of our brands, and the behaviours that we ask our consumers to practice every time they pick up a beer.”
Rocha further explained that the business of International Breweries was more than making a sale, rather, a focal point of making the world a better place and bringing cheers to its stakeholders. “We recognise that millions of consumers enjoy our products every day, so year-on-year, we continue to work across sectors to disrupt harmful drinking”, he said.
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 the second phase of this roll-out, Lagos has been chosen as one of the 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, stating that, “To achieve optimal results from the Responsible Beverage Service and other interventions targeting harmful alcohol use, partnership is key. Raising social consciousness and actions to reduce harmful alcohol use is only possible through collaborative efforts by the government, non-governmental organisations and communities.” He rounded up by stating that various countries have established different standards and procedures that regulate the consumption of alcohol and must be enforced by all critical stakeholders.
Speaking on the essence of the roundtable session, Legal & Corporate Affairs Director, International Breweries Plc, Temitope Oguntokun said, “We are proud to announce we have been shortlisted to be one of the representatives in 15 select countries where the rollout of the Responsible Beverage Services (RBS) initiative will be done by AB InBev, globally. In Africa, we are among three countries that were shortlisted – Nigeria, Zambia, and South Africa. Last year our organization celebrated 50 years and this great news is adding to the euphoria of that achievement.”
“With the RBS, our target is to train 10,000 people within that value chain on issues of alcohol abuse. When underage pregnant women go into a bar, they will ensure these sensitive segments are not served alcohol. They will also discourage binge drinking and implement mystery shopping where mystery shoppers will be at bars monitoring bars that serve children or pregnant women – non-compliant bars are awarded a red card while compliant bars get a green card with some incentives,” she added.
The Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Osagie Emmanuel Ehanire thanked International Breweries for making Nigeria proud with the Responsible Beverage Services initiative, stating that it will go a long way to reduce alcohol consumption in the underage and pregnant women. He stated, “The role of corporate organisations like International Breweries Plc 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 Minister rounded up his speech by reiterating the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Health towards effective collaboration with all relevant stakeholders in curbing the harmful consumption of alcohol and protecting the health and wellbeing of Nigerians.
The Honorable Minister was represented by Mrs Olubunmi Arebeana, Director, Food and Drug Services Department, Federal Ministry of Health.
The representative of the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, the Director, Medical Administration and Training, Dr. (Mrs) Shokunbi Olufunmilayo Modupe, commended the initiative and congratulated International Breweries Plc for being one of the countries to represent Africa on the global stage.
A panel of four discussants made up of representatives of Sector Commander of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Ayo Ologun; a member of the Nigerian Medical Association with expertise in public health, Dr Kemi Odukoya; Vice President 1, Hospitality and Tourism Management Association of Nigeria, Mrs Comfort Ogbonna, and the Company Secretary/General Counsel, International Breweries Plc, Muyiwa Ayojimi 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.
Over the years, IBPLC has championed several initiatives that have addressed harmful behaviours associated with alcohol. For over 4 years, in partnership with relevant stakeholders such as the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and the Beer Sectoral Group (BSG); through several roadshows, outreaches and sensitisation initiatives, International Breweries Plc – along with its partners - has impacted over 15 million people while educating them on responsible alcohol consumption.
This bold intervention known as RBS alongside collaborative efforts from relevant stakeholders will further drive International Breweries’ commitment to alcohol literacy, disrupt harmful drinking and remind consumers that smart drinking choices affect everyone, every day.