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I feel very bad – Lawyer Fidel Leviel on FDA’s ban on celebrity alcoholic endorsements

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Musician and lawyer Fidel Leviel from Ghana expressed dissatisfaction with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)’s restriction on celebrities endorsing alcoholic drinks.

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 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 Justin 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 advertisements 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, and occupation, among others, and consequently make the directive null, void, and unenforceable.

But on June 21, 2024, the Supreme Court by a majority decision upheld the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA)’s directive.

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.

Speaking on Channel One TV’s entertainment talk show The Chat – hosted by Ekow Koomson, Lawyer Fidel Leviel stated that he feels so bad about the ruling as a musician.

According to him,” As a musician, I feel very bad about it … It looks like the FDA and for that matter, the Republic of Ghana is taking my bread away from me”

Lawyer Fidel was quick in adding, “but I am guided by certain legal principles taking into consideration the Children’s Act 1998 article 560 .. that talks about the best interest of the child… so it keeps me at a point I will now compromise as a musician and also compromise as a lawyer”.

On the question of whether celebrities influence young ones through alcoholic advertisements? Lawyer Fidel Leviel answered, ” That can never be overemphasized… It is a fact…but if the question that easily and equally begs the mind is; If a ban could be made on celebrities endorsing alcohol, then why don’t we ban the production of alcohol at all”?

Watch lawyer Fidel’s full submission in the video below

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