Court Dismisses Challenge Against FDA’s Ban on Celebrity Alcohol Ads

The Supreme Court has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Food and Drugs Authority’s (FDA) guidelines prohibiting celebrities from advertising alcoholic beverages.

The FDA’s 2016 guidelines stipulate that no well-known personality or professional shall appear in advertisements for alcoholic drinks. Mark Darlington Osae, manager for musicians Reggie N Bollie, filed the suit, arguing that the directive is discriminatory and unconstitutional under articles 17(1) and 17(2) of the 1992 Constitution.

Chief Justice Gertrude Torkonoo, leading a 5-2 majority decision, affirmed the constitutionality of the FDA’s directive. Osae’s lawyer, Bobby Banso, contended that the ban unfairly targets the creative arts industry. The lawsuit claimed the guideline violated the constitutional guarantees of equality before the law and non-discrimination.

The suit sought several declarations, including the unconstitutionality of the guideline and an injunction preventing its enforcement. Notable figures in the creative industry, such as Wendy Shay and Shatta Wale, have voiced their opposition, highlighting the significant income from alcohol endorsements.

Despite these arguments, the Supreme Court upheld the FDA’s directive, maintaining the ban on celebrity endorsements of alcoholic beverages. This ruling concludes a nineteen-month legal battle initiated by Osae, CEO of Black Kulcha Music.

Chief Justice Torkonoo announced that the full judgment would be available on June 21. Following the ruling, FDA’s Director for Legal and Corporate Affairs, Joseph Bennie, expressed satisfaction with the decision and affirmed the Authority’s commitment to enforcing the guideline.

Representatives from the creative industry, including George Quaye, attended the hearing. Nii Ofoli Yartey of the Ghana Music Alliance expressed disappointment and pledged to continue advocating against the directive.

The FDA initially implemented the guideline to curb alcohol consumption among minors, influenced by celebrity endorsements. This legal affirmation reinforces the FDA’s stance on the matter, ensuring that no well-known personalities will participate in advertising alcoholic beverages.


In 2015, the FDA introduced a regulation aimed at reducing alcohol use in Ghana, which included a ban on celebrity endorsements for alcoholic products. The guideline faced significant opposition from the creative arts sector, which argued that it deprived them of a critical revenue source.

On November 11, 2022, Osae filed a writ at the Supreme Court, challenging the guideline as discriminatory. Despite widespread support from the creative industry, the Supreme Court upheld the FDA’s directive, confirming its compliance with the constitution.

Creative industry figures, including Wendy Shay, Shatta Wale, Brother Sammy, Kuami Eugene, and Camidoh, had campaigned against the ban, emphasizing the economic impact on their livelihoods. The Supreme Court’s decision, however, reinforces the FDA’s regulatory framework to protect public health.

This ruling marks a significant moment in the ongoing debate over advertising regulations and the role of celebrities in promoting products with potential health risks.

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