Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Celebrity Endorsements for Alcoholic Beverages in Ghana

Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Celebrity Endorsements for Alcoholic Beverages in Ghana
Supreme Court of Ghana


 

In a landmark decision that has sparked widespread discussion, the Supreme Court of Ghana has upheld a 2015 directive from the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) that prohibits celebrities from endorsing alcoholic beverages. This ruling concludes a highly publicized legal battle initiated by Mark Darlington Osae, the CEO of Black Kulcha Music, who challenged the directive as being discriminatory against the creative arts industry.

 

The directive, introduced by the FDA in 2015, was designed to regulate the promotion and consumption of alcohol in Ghana. One of its most contentious provisions prohibits well-known personalities and professionals from appearing in advertisements for alcoholic drinks. The FDA justified this measure by highlighting the significant influence celebrities wield, particularly over minors, arguing that such endorsements could lead to increased alcohol consumption among young people.

 

Representing Mark Darlington Osae in this legal challenge was Bobby Banson from the Robert Smith Law Group, while the FDA's defense was led by Justine Amenuvor. Osae, who manages musical acts such as Reggie 'N' Bollie and Skrewfaze, filed a writ at the Supreme Court on November 11, 2022. He contended that the FDA's regulation was discriminatory and violated the 1992 Constitution of Ghana, specifically Articles 17(1) and 17(2), which guarantee equality before the law and prohibit discrimination based on social or economic status or occupation.

 

Osae argued that the restriction unfairly targeted the creative arts industry, depriving its members of a crucial revenue stream. Prominent figures within the industry, including Wendy Shay, Shatta Wale, Brother Sammy, Kuami Eugene, and Camidoh, have all voiced their opposition to the directive, arguing that endorsements and advertisements for alcoholic beverages are among the few lucrative opportunities available to them.

 

Despite these arguments, the Supreme Court, in a majority decision delivered by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo on June 19, ruled that the FDA's directive does not contravene the constitution. The court upheld the ban, emphasizing the importance of protecting public health and preventing the promotion of alcohol to minors.

 

This ruling has significant implications for the creative arts sector in Ghana. It underscores the ongoing tension between public health regulations and economic opportunities for artistes and entertainers. While the FDA's directive aims to curb underage drinking and its associated risks, it also highlights the challenges faced by those in the creative industry who rely on advertising revenue to sustain their livelihoods.

 

As the debate continues, stakeholders in the creative and cultural industries are calling for a reevaluation of the regulation to find a balance that protects public health without unduly harming the economic interests of artistes. The case has brought to light the need for a nuanced approach to regulation that considers both the influence of celebrities on public behavior and the financial realities of the creative arts sector.

 

In conclusion, the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the FDA's directive marks a significant moment in the regulation of alcohol advertising in Ghana. It reaffirms the authority's commitment to protecting public health while also prompting ongoing discussions about the best ways to support and sustain the creative industries in the country.



Source : MyJoyOnline.com

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