Eight years after first initiating a ban on locally-made whisky sold in plastic bags, the government is finally enforcing a sweeping ban across the country, effective as of 31 December. The whisky has been tested and found to be harmful to human health, but Cameroonians are still stocking up on supplies.
“I cannot afford to go to a bar and pay 650 CFA (approx. €1) for a drink. So, I’d rather get the “whisky sachet” which will knock me out for less,” Ismaël told RFI.
The “whisky sachet”, as it is known locally, is 43 per cent alcohol.
At 100 to 150 CFA Francs (15 to 23 cents), the locally-produced whisky sold in plastic bags is far more affordable than the bottled ones.
“We know that it is harmful to our health,” Ebeneze Massing said, “but we all have to die one day.”
“If I drink that, I will die. If I don’t drink that, I will still die. So, I prefer to drink that whisky and die later.”
Lab tests undertaken some time ago, showed that the plastic-bagged whisky is harmful to human health.
The Cameroonian government first decided on a ban in September 2014 which was then postponed to September 2016 so that producers and retailers could exhaust their supplies.
Alphonse Ayissi Abena, the head of the Cameroonian Consumers Federation (FOCACO), campaigns against the plastic-bag whisky.
“This whisky kills. We are trying to make the men understand how harmful it is to their health,” he said.
Abena added that it is time for the government to be firm and remove all of these products from the shelves.
Alex, a retailer, told RFI that his sales of plastic-bagged whisky has rocketed days ahead of the ban.
“I must have sold two to three boxes in just two days. During the end of year festivities, poor people will drink the “whisky-sachet”. And a lot of people are stocking up before the ban becomes effective”.