Evaluating Alcohol Control Policies in South Africa

South Africa has one of world's highest levels of heavy episodic drinking among men and women. Alcohol has been identified as one of the country's leading risk factors for death and disability, accounting for 6.3% of disability-adjusted life years lost in 2004. Since 1994, South Africa has attempted to influence alcohol consumption through policy changes in areas such as excise taxes, restrictions on packaging for products, allowable blood alcohol concentration levels for drivers, and warning labels on alcohol containers.

This project aims to assess the impact of existing policies and policy changes on alcohol consumption patterns among a general population sample of South African adolescents and adults. As part of the International Alcohol Control (IAC) study, the project will use a longitudinal panel design and take advantage of natural experiments in which policy changes have been made in one locality and not in another. It will involve documenting the alcohol policy environment via the Alcohol Environment Protocol (AEP) and conducting a longitudinal survey of individuals at the community level. Gender considerations will also be taken into account in the survey questions and in the data analysis. The study will shed light on factors that affect policy implementation, on the contexts in which various policies are effective, and on how different demographic groups (by age, socio-economic status and gender) are differentially affected by various policies. The research is expected to result in stronger alcohol control policies in different regions of South Africa, with implications likely relevant to other sub-Saharan African countries.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, December 13, 2012

End Date

Sunday, December 13, 2015


36 months

IDRC Officer

Lecours, Natacha

Total funding

CA$ 407,100


South Africa, South of Sahara


Food, Environment, and Health

Project Leader

Charles Parry


South African Medical Research Council

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website