Health & Wellbeing
JM | Jun 25, 2022

Entertainment explores its role in alcohol consumption through power broker ‘Responsibility Now!’ panel

/ Our Today

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‘RESPONSIBILITY NOW Driving responsible consumption through the entertainment sector’ town hall moderator Terri-Karelle Reid (right) guides the panel of entertainment stakeholders through an engaging discussion on the sector’s role in promoting moderation. The joint Red Stripe-PSOJ event was held at the Red Stripe brewery on June 22. From left: SunNation Promotions managing director, Philip Palmer, promoter and entrepreneur Kandi King, digital marketer Denar Brown, and head of the JCF Corporate Communications Unit SSP Stephanie Lindsay. (Photo contributed)

Incentivising safe travel arrangements, on-site drinking marshalls, and empowering serving staff to limit alcohol sales were some of the topics broached by entertainment sector heavyweights at the ‘Responsibility Now!’ virtual town hall.

The event was jointly hosted by Red Stripe and the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) on June 22 at the Red Stripe brewery and created a platform for open discussion between public and private sector stakeholders on how to build a culture of moderation in Jamaica’s entertainment sector and pursue decisive action.

The dynamic panel discussion followed welcome remarks by Red Stripe head of corporate affairs, Dianne Ashton-Smith and PSOJ president Keith Duncan and a keynote address by Minister of Culture and Entertainment Olivia Grange. Terri-Karelle Reid moderated the energetic discussion featuring head of the JCF’s Corporate Communications Unit, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Stephanie Lindsay; DJ Kurt Riley; SunNation Promotions managing director, Philip Palmer; promoter and entrepreneur Kandi King; and digital marketer Denar Brown.

Kicking off the conversation, Kandi King shared, “As a promoter, the last thing you want to hear is that somebody coming from your event engaged in illegal activity or ended up in an accident, so you have to promote the responsible consumption of alcohol at your events. Speaking as a woman, when some men are intoxicated, they tend to harass us. It’s, therefore, important to me to curate spaces where all my patrons feel safe, that starts with promoting moderate consumption.”

Addressing developments in the party space since the pandemic, Phillip Palmer explained, “Following two years of pandemic quarantines, we have a set of new adults and party-goers who more than likely have not been oriented properly in enjoying alcohol in an event setting. Therefore, we must ensure these people understand the importance of responsible drinking. Children who were 16 in 2020 are now 18 and ready to take on the road, but they are very green. My concern is for the newbies and how to prevent them from becoming overpowered by alcohol.”

Denar Brown highlighted that social media could be both a tool for advocacy and a platform for promoting unhealthy drinking habits.

He noted, “In 2010, Jamaica’s internet penetration was 27 per cent; we are now at 68 per cent. At this rate, almost all Jamaicans will soon be able to access social media. They will likely be exposed to posts of people glorifying drinking culture or even music videos with product placement.”

“However, social media platforms are also being used by some people and entities like Red Stripe to push the message of responsible drinking. These discussions have underscored the power of collaboration. Globally, companies like Heineken have explored offering discounts for patrons who rideshare to events instead of driving themself. We can look into these options with our transport companies,” Brown added.

PSOJ president Keith Duncan (left) and Red Stripe head of corporate affairs, Dianne Ashton-Smith (right) pose for a picture with ‘RESPONSIBILITY NOW Driving responsible consumption through the entertainment sector’ town hall keynote speaker, Minister of Culture and Entertainment Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange. The joint Red Stripe-PSOJ event was held at the Red Stripe brewery on June 22. (Photo contributed)

Despite the ideas put forward, the panellists agreed that the existing cultural practices present a challenge to moderate drinking. Palmer noted, “We don’t have a culture of people walking with IDs. There is also a challenge with the bar service which cannot be solved without empowerment. Right now, if someone is intoxicated and wants to purchase another drink, no bartender can say no; it would be a problem. Maybe this is where we need drink marshals to cut people off when they have reached their limits.”

Lindsay explained that while ID requirements are seen by many as an undue burden, the process is essential to prevent underage consumption.

She also noted that laws exist to support the introduction of drinking marshalls since the Spirit Licence Act outlaws selling alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons.

“One of the major concerns for law enforcement is the number of fatalities we see during the festive seasons. Many of these fatalities are attributed to drunk drivers, especially the younger drivers. Some of these new adults have not been taught responsible driving, much less doing so when drinking. We would love to see more of a push towards ridesharing with taxi companies for these younger patrons. We work with the entertainment sector to educate people about, and we’ve found it functions best when there is communication and collaboration,” remarked the senior cop.

Red Stripe head of corporate affairs, Dianne Ashton-Smith (second left) shares a light moment with ‘RESPONSIBILITY NOW Driving responsible consumption through the entertainment sector’ town hall panelists. The joint Red Stripe-PSOJ event was held at the Red Stripe brewery on June 22. From left: promoter and entrepreneur Kandi King, head of the JCF Corporate Communications Unit SSP Stephanie Lindsay, and SunNation Promotions mkanaging director, Philip Palmer. (Photo contributed)

“The JCF’s role in this industry is to ensure that events are carried out according to the law; we want the industry to change how they view our role and see an opportunity for us to collaborate to protect patrons,” Lindsay added.

‘RESPONSIBILITY NOW Driving responsible consumption through the entertainment sector’ concluded with a heartfelt video testimonial from popular DJ Kurt Riley discussing his experience with alcohol poisoning in 2021.

“It was my birthday weekend, and because of the pandemic, I decided to have a smaller, more intimate gathering. I drank a lot with no chasers and eventually started to feel weak and dehydrated. I went to the hospital to get an IV for what I thought was dehydration but was admitted for alcohol poisoning. I went straight to the ICU and was there for five days; I don’t even remember that period. My liver and kidneys were damaged. That ordeal taught me the need to be responsible for my life, health, job, and those who care about me. My message to everybody is to practise responsible drinking”, shared Riley. 

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