Health

Nearly 60% of Alcohol in Kenya Could Be Counterfeit, ABAK Chair Says

  • May 24, 2024
  • 3 min read
Nearly 60% of Alcohol in Kenya Could Be Counterfeit, ABAK Chair Says

Kenyans, especially young people, beware! A concerning claim from the Alcoholic Beverages Association of Kenya (ABAK) Chair, Eric Githua, suggests that nearly 60% of the alcohol sold in the country could be counterfeit. This poses a serious health threat, particularly for young people who are often more susceptible to peer pressure and experimentation.

While the exact figures are debated, there’s no denying the prevalence of counterfeit alcohol in Kenya. Authorities have conducted numerous raids on illegal distilleries and seized vast quantities of fake liquor, often imitating popular brands. These raids highlight the disturbing reality.

The dangers of consuming counterfeit alcohol are especially concerning for young people. These products may contain harmful substances like methanol, which can lead to blindness, organ damage, or even death. The unregulated production process means there’s no guarantee of the alcohol content, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning, a serious health issue for young people who might not be aware of their limits.

The economic impact is also substantial. Counterfeit alcohol avoids proper licensing and taxation, depriving the government of critical revenue. This lost income could be directed towards essential public services that benefit young people, such as education and healthcare initiatives.

How Youth Are Most Affected

Young people are a significant demographic when it comes to alcohol consumption in Kenya. The easy availability and potentially lower price point of counterfeit alcohol can be a dangerous draw for them. Here’s why youth are particularly vulnerable:

  • Peer pressure: Social gatherings often involve alcohol consumption, and young people might feel pressured to drink to fit in. Counterfeit alcohol, potentially cheaper than legitimate brands, might seem like an accessible option in these situations.
  • Lack of awareness: Young people might not be fully aware of the dangers of consuming counterfeit alcohol and the potential health risks involved.

How to Stay Safe

By staying vigilant and choosing your drinks carefully, you can help reduce the demand for counterfeit alcohol and protect yourself from potential health risks. Here are some tips:

  • Buy from reputable licensed vendors: Avoid Street vendors or shops with a questionable reputation.
  • Check for genuine tax stamps: All legally produced alcoholic beverages in Kenya have a government-issued excise stamp. Be wary of bottles without them.
  • Trust your instincts: If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Counterfeit alcohol is often sold at significantly lower prices than genuine brands.
  • Educate yourself and your peers: Understanding the dangers of counterfeit alcohol and responsible drinking habits is crucial. Talk to your friends about the risks and encourage them to make safe choices.

The Kenyan government also needs to continue its crackdown on illegal producers and distributors to ensure the safety of consumers, especially young people. Additionally, implementing programs that educate youth about the dangers of alcohol consumption, particularly counterfeit products, can play a vital role in reducing the demand and protecting their health.

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Kelvin Kalama
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