The government of Malaysia has announced new alcohol policy measures: it plans to proceed with raising the legal age for alcohol consumption, in a move to reduce alcohol harm and protect the young.

The South-East Asian nations has informed of plans to raise the minimum age for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21 in a filing to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The filing did not state when the change would be scheduled to take effect. But the filing outlined the measure as part of Malaysia’s broader strategy to prevent underage alcohol use and to reduce alcohol availability in order to promote better public health and socioeconomic progress.

As part of the policy, Malaysia also plans to implement additional labelling requirements for alcohol products that warn consumers of potential health hazards associated with alcohol use.

Within the coming 60 days, Member States of WTO are set to comment on Malaysia’s plans.

Independent evidence from leading researchers around the world shows that reducing the availability of alcohol is a cost-effective, high-impact measure to reduce and prevent alcohol harm – especially when it is integrated with measures to curb marketing or ban alcohol advertising and to decrease the affordability of alcohol (3 Best Buys).