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Celebrities can’t promote alcoholic drinks – Supreme Court upholds FDA ban

The Supreme Court has by a majority decision upheld the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)’s directive which prevents celebrities from endorsing alcoholic drinks.

This brings an end to a highly publicised nineteen-month legal suit filed against the Authority by the CEO of Black Kulcha Music, Mark Darlington Osae.

Delivering an abridged version of the ruling at the apex court on Wednesday, June 19, Chief Justice, Gertrude Torkornoo, said the FDA’s directive does not contravene the constitution.

This means that well-known personalities or professionals are perpetually banned from appearing in advertisements that promote alcoholic drinks.

Background

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 the Food and Drugs Authority was represented by Justine Amenuvor.

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 advertisement 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, occupation, among others, and consequently makes 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 advertisement 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.

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