Ban this alcohol advert on tv

BY: Enimil Ashon

Below, I am going to commit a sin in mass communication – the production of mass of text in a single sentence or paragraph. They call it semantic noise. Here we go.

Alomo Bitters, Adonko Bitters, Kakai Bitters, Bie Gya Bitters, Agya Appiah Bitters, Chairman Bitters, Orijin Bitters, Joy Dadi Bitters, Pashew Bitters, Shatta/SM Bitters, Cargo Gin Bitters, Don Papa Ginseng Bitters, Pusher Gin Bitters, Ogidigidi Bitters, Captains Bitters, Joy Twedee Ginger Bitters, Herb Afric Gin Bitters, Alafia Bitters, Odo b3ba Bitters, Playboys’ Bitters, Big Boss Herbal Gin Bitters, Odenden Bitters,  Nana Takyi Bitters, Happy Man Bitters, Opeimu Herbal Bitters, Kalahari Bitters, Soloku Bitters, Barima Nsuo Bitters, Bɔbɔɔbɔ Bitters, Piaaw Bitters, Adutwumwaa Bitters, Hammer Bitters, Prɛkɛsɛ Bitters,  Atadwe Bitters, Kpokɛkɛ Bitters, Odo aba Bitters, Hye so Bitters, To mpa Bitters,  Atene Bitters, Sei hor Bitters, Butubutu Bitters, Joy Sokoo Bitters, Round 2 Bitters, Odeneho Bitters, K 20, Mandingo Bitters, “Biegya” Bitters, Origin Bitters, Target Bitters…

Amazed? Sorry for being so heavy with the text. So many bitters - all made in Ghana; in fact, too many for a country with the kind of health facilities we have. Yet, even the above list is by no means exhaustive. As a matter of fact, if producing alcoholic bitters were a commendable achievement or anything for which any country should feel proud, Ghana would be in the Guinness Book of Records.

Why are they so popular? The claim is that there is an active ingredient in the tree root (known in Ghanaian parlance as “bitters”) for the production of aphrodisiac to enhance sexual performance in men. That, probably, explained why decades ago, and until recently, only elderly men went in for bitters. The reason was (and is) that old age, in addition to the effect of some antihypertensive (Blood Pressure) drugs, among other causes,  has the effect of lowering male libido and it takes some help for them to achieve an erection.   

But scientists, including doctors, particularly noted pathologists, have come out to debunk the bitters-sex relationship. Indeed, Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, former Director General of Ghana Health Service (GHS) is on record as stating that “there is no scientific proof that bitters peddled in the media as aphrodisiacs can treat sexual dysfunction”.

Even granting that the claim has a slight grain of truth, how come that in Ghana, young people are the target of the “Drink Bitters” media campaign? And, O boy, those people seem to have tonnes of money for their TV onslaught.

Nature has so worked out the make-up of males that unless something has gone wrong physiologically, mentally (psychologically) or medically, a young male below 45 should not need a booster to arouse the libido to produce an erection.

I am not anti-rich, and I find nothing wrong with anybody trying to get rich. It becomes a source of worry to me, however, when society permits wealth creation by a few at the expense of the health of the millions of its people – especially through deception.

I call it deception because those entrepreneurs know for a fact that alcohol, even without bitters, arouses the male in men. Deception because long-term alcohol use has been known as a possible cause of impotence in men and infertility in women. Pathologists have, over the last 10 years or so, been expressing alarm at the rate at which young persons have been dying of kidney diseases linked to excessive alcohol consumption. This fact, they say, comes out on the mortuary table during post-mortem examination.

To do this article, I called Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng for his comment on the bitters craze. His only comment was for me to go and read about ‘Fetal Alcohol Disorders’. I did; and I was in shock for days. The disorder occurs in a person whose mother drank alcohol during pregnancy. Problems may include an abnormal appearance, poor coordination, poor judgment, learning disabilities, low intelligence, behaviour problems….

My problem is, if, as a country, we are so democratic or are so much in need of revenue from corporate tax that we cannot stop businessmen from producing alcohol or alcoholic bitters, are we also so ‘democratic’ that we cannot enforce laws against age limits for alcohol consumption?

Throughout the United States (everybody’s idea of a democratic country), the minimum legal age to purchase any alcoholic beverage from a shop, supermarket, liquor store, bar, club or any other licensed premises is 21 years.

Viewed against the stated ill effects of alcohol consumption, it will be indefensible for the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) to say that it has not noticed the presence on television of a whisky commercial in which a young lady who drinks the whisky, wins in an arm-wrestling contest against a man who has not drunk alcohol. Who at FDA approved this advert?

It is a lie! It is an evil which this nation has tolerated for too long. Entrepreneurs are being allowed to kill or destroy our youth. Their weapon is money and they pump it into television advertising. Instantly, they are billionaires. Next, they would be collecting awards all over the place. To have allowed this advert on air is a crime against humanity by the FDA.

I have, on advice, left out the name of the alcoholic beverage in question. Next time, I won’t.

Useful links Ghana Politics | Ghana Celebrity News | News in Ghana