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The loss is on FDA – George Quaye reacts to ban on using celebrities in alcohol ads

George Quaye

Media personality George Quaye is dissatisfied with the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on notable figures from advertising alcoholic beverages in the country. He believes that it would be in the best interest of the Authority to lift this ban, which has been in place since 2015.

The Supreme Court verdict was determined by a majority decision on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, after 19 months. Delivering an abridged version of the ruling at the apex court, Chief Justice, Gertrude Torkornoo, said the FDA’s directive does not contravene the constitution. However, George Quaye believes the FDA missed out on an opportunity to rather collaborate with celebrities to raise awareness on the effects of alcohol consumption among the youth.

Speaking to JoyNews, he insisted that the young ones are indulging in more dangerous substances that could be curbed if notable personalities were roped in to assist with sensitisation efforts. “Rather find a way to engage popular people and celebrities to help educate these kids. Don’t fight them and make them feel like they have to stay home and not find jobs to do just because you want to create some laws that modern times don’t align with,” he said.

Today’s ruling concludes a widely publicized 19-month legal case brought against the Authority by Mark Darlington Osae, the CEO of Black Kulcha Music. As a result, prominent individuals and professionals are permanently prohibited from appearing in advertisements that promote alcoholic beverages.

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Supreme Court dismisses suit challenging FDA’s ban on celebrities in alcohol adverts

 

The full ruling is expected to be made public on Friday, June 21. Speaking to reporters after the ruling, Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs at the Food and Drugs Authority, Joseph Bennie welcomed the ruling and said the Authority will take steps to prevent well-known personalities and professionals from circumventing the order. An angry representative of the plaintiff with the Ghana Music Alliance, Nii Ofoli Yartey left the courthouse saying they’ll continue with their advocacy.

The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in 2015 enforced a directive meant to regulate the use of alcohol among Ghanaians. However, aspects of their guidelines prevent celebrities from advertising for alcoholic beverages.

The Authority had explained that due to the influential nature of these showbiz personalities, alcoholic advertisements they are involved in could push minors into alcoholism. Representing the plaintiff Mark Darlington Osae, was Bobby Banson from the Robert Smith Law Group, while Justine Amenuvor represented the Food and Drugs Authority.

On November 11, 2022, Mark Darlington Osae, the manager of Reggie ‘N’ Bollie and Skrewfaze, filed a writ at the Supreme Court, describing the FDA’s 2015 regulations against alcoholic advertisements by celebrities as discriminatory against the creative arts industry. The writ indicates that the FDA directive which orders that, “no well-known personality or professional shall be used in alcoholic beverage advertising,” is inconsistent with and in contravention of articles 17(1) and 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.

He contends that, Articles 17(1) and 17 (2) of the 1992 Constitution guarantee equality before the law and prohibit discrimination against persons on grounds of social or economic status, and occupation, among others, and consequently make the directive null, void, and unenforceable.

Creative industry persons including Wendy Shay, Shatta Wale, Brother Sammy, Kuami Eugene, and Camidoh, have all spoken against the law and called on powers that be to repeal it, prior to the court action initiated by Mark Darlington. According to the stakeholders of the culture and creative industries, endorsements or advertisements of alcoholic beverages is one of the very few income streams available to them at present, therefore, any law that restricts their engagement in such activities robs them of their livelihood.

By: Kenneth Awotwe Darko

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