Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Government emphasises support for moderation at Responsibility Now! town hall

Published:Thursday | June 20, 2024 | 12:51 AM
Government Senator Abka Fitz Henley gives the keynote address during the latest in the Red Stripe Responsibility Now! town hall series, under the theme ‘The Role of Media in Communicating Responsible Consumption’, held Tuesday at the Red Stripe Brewery
Government Senator Abka Fitz Henley gives the keynote address during the latest in the Red Stripe Responsibility Now! town hall series, under the theme ‘The Role of Media in Communicating Responsible Consumption’, held Tuesday at the Red Stripe Brewery on Spanish Town Road in Kingston.

Government Senator Abka Fitz-Henley on Tuesday sought to clarify the Government’s stance on alcohol consumption, emphasising a supportive approach towards moderation during Red Stripe’s fifth “Responsibility Now!” town hall.

The town hall, organised in partnership with the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), was held at Red Stripe’s Spanish Town Road Brewery and revolved around the theme ‘Low, Slow, No: The Role of Media in Communicating Responsible Consumption’.

“Living in a capitalist society, it’s heartening to see companies like Red Stripe not solely chasing profits but also championing crucial issues,” Fitz-Henley said during his keynote address in which he highlighted the Government’s commitment to fostering responsible alcohol consumption and the importance of collaboration with media, sports, and entertainment industries to amplify this message.

Fitz-Henley elaborated on the administration’s balanced stance on alcohol consumption, emphasising support for moderation and the corporate sector.

“The administration is not anti-alcohol. We are supportive of moderation and supportive of our corporate stakeholders,” he stated. “Under the new Road Traffic Act, individuals with more than 35 micrograms of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath and a blood alcohol concentration of 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood are considered over the legally allowed limit. Our prime minister recently addressed the National Road Safety Council, indicating that the administration is considering reducing this limit.”

Alcohol Policy

Building on this, Fitz-Henley highlighted the ongoing development of the National Alcohol Policy and the necessity of extensive stakeholder consultation.

“We are working with entities like Red Stripe to create a well-rounded and inclusive policy. This process necessitates detailed consultations as the administration prioritises engaging all relevant stakeholders before finalising any decisions.’”

Drawing on his media experience, Fitz-Henley, a former journalist, pointed to the influential role of media in shaping public perception and behaviour. He further called for strategic partnerships with the entertainment sector to effectively promote responsible drinking messages.

“The media has tremendous influence over perceptions of what is considered cool, acceptable, and responsible. During my time in the media, I would highlight the top five news items. There would be little interest if I wrote a story about the Jamaican economy growing by 25 per cent. Similarly, a story about a prominent political figure would not generate much traction. However, it would attract significant attention if I reported that a dancehall artiste had been incarcerated. The online data showed that stories about entertainment and sports figures generate the most interest.

“There is then a significant opportunity for partnership with members of our entertainment fraternity to spread responsible messages. We could then engage these influential figures highlighted by the media to communicate a more responsible message.”

The town hall underscored the importance of media engagement in promoting responsibility and illustrated how businesses can leverage media influence for social good. Red Stripe Managing Director Daaf van Tilburg echoed this sentiment, praising the collaborative efforts of the media and the Government.

“Today’s event has been instrumental in advancing our responsible-drinking campaign - ‘Low, Slow, No’. We are committed to consumer protection, and such partnerships are crucial in fostering a culture of responsibility. The participation of both the media and the Government highlights the importance of collaboration in this endeavour. By working together, we can ensure responsible drinking messages are effectively communicated and embraced within Jamaican society. We are grateful to our key stakeholders for their contributions and support, essential in our mission to promote responsibility and protect our consumers.”