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Vietnam Drinks 15% More Beer Each Year. A New Alcohol Control Bill Tries to Curb That.

In 2018, Vietnam's total beer consumption reached over 4.67 billion liters, according to Nielsen statistics.

According to a study conducted by Hanoi Medical University hospital and Viet Duc University hospital, 82% of people who die in traffic accidents have a blood alcohol concentration higher than 50mg/dl, which is equal to two 330-millimeter cans of beer. This result was cited by Tran Thi Trang, deputy director of the health ministry's legal department on May 6 during a conference about the new alcohol control bill, VnExpress reports.

The new alcohol control bill, to be submitted to the National Assembly on May 23, took health authorities approximately ten years to draft. The bill originally promised stricter regulation of the advertising and distribution of beers and other alcoholic drinks. However, during the drafting process, the regulations have been "loosened up" due to pushback.

Specifically, the earlier version of the bill proposed banning advertising and promoting of alcoholic beverages with an alcohol content under 15%; prohibiting alcohol companies from sponsoring events; banning online sales of beers and alcohol with an alcohol content above 15%; and only allowing alcoholic drinks to be sold during certain times of the day.

There have been several arguments made against these proposals, some most notably by the European Chamber of Commerce in response to the banning of online alcohol sales. In the updated version of the bill to be sent to the National Assembly in late May, the aforementioned aspects have been omitted, with the name of the bill changed to 'Alcoholic Drinks' Harmful Effects Prevention and Control Law for Human's Health'.

During the conference, there was strong support for the bill to contain stricter regulations, despite opposition. Experts shared that beer consumption in Vietnam is increasing by 15% a year. Last year, the country collectively downed 4.7 billion liters of beer and 350 million liters of wine and liquor.

"Some have expressed concern that limiting the sale of alcohol will affect profits; however, other calculations show that financial losses caused by traffic accidents have reached US$1 billion a year, while alcoholic beverages companies only pay US$1.2 billion in tax. Beer and alcohol can also lead to other consequences such as economic losses, social disorder, domestic violence, diminished labor productivity, social inequality and environmental damage," said Vu Thi My Hanh, deputy director of Vietnam Health Strategy and Policy Institute in Vietnamese.

She added that the updated bill and its new name downplay and obscure the detrimental effects of alcohol, which have been proven by recent studies and statistics.

[Photo/CC BY]


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