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44% of Male Students Have First Drink by Age 14: Study

It's no secret that many Vietnamese adults enjoy downing a few drinks from time to time, but a new study has found that the hobby is popular among youths as well, particularly males.

According to VnExpress, a study carried out by the Hanoi University of Public Health since 2013 reveals that 80% of males have their first drink as a teen or adolescent, while only 36% of female respondents said the same.

Among males, researchers found that 44% of boys from 8th to 12th grade had a drink before they turned 14.

Associate Professor Pham Viet Cuong shared these figures at a discussion on a draft law which would address health issues related to heavy drinking. He also explained, according to the news source, that drinking at a young age can result in a high addiction rate since brain cells are still developing and vulnerable.

Furthermore, adolescents who drink may be prone to problems including absenteeism, relationship issues and non-consensual sexual behavior. 

"If we do not act now, the problem might get worse," Cuong said at the discussion, VnExpress shares.

In a similar survey conducted by the Ho Chi Minh City University of Education in 2014, youngsters explained that drinking was “an integral part of social etiquette and a proper way to behave at work” while also “helping them build friendships.”

While nhậu culture is not a recent development in Vietnamese society, a recent uptick in alcohol consumption has raised concerns among public health officials and experts. According to Tran Quoc Bao, an official from the Ministry of Health’s General Department of Preventive Medicine, Vietnam consumed 3.4 billion liters of beer in 2015, an amount the country is Vietnam Wants to Limit Alcohol Sale Hours to Combat Social, Health Issues. This is a 50% increase from national alcohol consumption in 2010.

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