Vietnam: New Alcohol Law in the Making
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Trường Sơn says the draft Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention that is ready for the National Assembly to be discussed in May.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been busy preparing the Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention since early 2018 – in response to the severe problems alcohol causes to health, economy, society and development in Viet Nam. According to data of the World Health Organization (WHO), alcohol consumption and related harms are very high in Viet Nam. Since 2015, the amount of alcohol consumed by an average Vietnamese person has increased by nearly 30, says Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Trường Sơn.
The volume of wine and other alcohol produced in the country has been on the rise versus a reduction in other countries. The negative impacts of wine and beer has been proven by international scientists as one of the main causes of disease. [Alcohol] is the main cause of road accidents and domestic violence, said the deputy minister, per Vietnam News reporting.
Pervasive and increasing alcohol use and harm
The WHO reports that in Viet Nam, there was a 50% increase in alcohol production in a decade, with the proportion of adults consuming alcohol rising from 46% to 77% among men and from 2% to 11% among women between 2002 and 2016. Projections show that alcohol consumption and related harm will further rise, if no alcohol policy measures are put in place. An increase of 3 liters in per capita consumption is projected for Viet Nam, by the WHO.
Viet Nam ranks among the countries with the highest rate of years of life lost due to alcohol. The number of alcohol use disorder cases is higher than the average of the WHO Western pacific region. And the per capita consumption of alcohol users, especially men, is extreme.
There are more than 11,000 alcohol-attributable deaths from liver cirrhosis, more than 3,000 deaths from alcohol-related cancers and more than 6,000 deaths from alcohol-fueled road traffic injuries in Viet Nam. Alcohol policy interventions along the three best buys recommended by the WHO are therefore an issues of national urgency.
Key elements of the proposed Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention
The Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention has three main objectives.
- Availability regulations: to curtail opening times for alcohol outlets; to ban the sale and consumption of wine and beer in public offices.
- Affordability regulations: to institute higher taxes on wine and beer.
- Health and development promotion: to develop new policies to prevent the negative impacts of alcohol on good health and raise the living standards of Vietnamese people.
The ministry has emphasised the importance of preventing teenagers under the age of 18 from buying and selling alcohol online or being depicted in advertisements. Lessons learned from the US have shown that if alcohol sales are limited, it will benefit the whole of society.
Extensive consultation process
In the course of writing the draft law we have visited many provinces to talk with the people, explained deputy minister, per Vietnam News reporting.
Many of them support our idea of banning the sale of alcohol next to schools and hospitals.
We should look at the positive side of the law as National Assembly deputies discuss it next month.”
IOGT International, our members and partners in the communities around Viet Nam, strongly support the formulation and implementation of the evidence-based, cost-effective measures included in the Law on Alcohol Harm Prevention.