As Movendi International reported, the Alcohol Harm Prevention Law in Vietnam is already showing positive signs. Since implementation in January 2020, beer sales in Vietnam have fallen by 25%. This is a considerable achievement because Vietnam is the third-largest beer consumer in Asia and beer volumes have risen by an average 6.6% for the last six years compared to the 0.2% increase globally.
Now, the Ministry of Health is calling on all parties including local communities, civil society organizations, government agencies and provincial-level People’s Councils to help prevent and reduce alcohol harm in the country with the same resolve as in the fight against COVID-19.
Alcohol harm is a serious problem for Vietnam. Alcohol is one of the major risk factors for the growing Non-Communicable Disease (NCD) burden in the country. Statistics indicate an upward trend in the average per capita alcohol consumption among people aged 15 and above, both male and female, in Vietnam. The rate of alcohol use among adolescents and the youth is about 80% for males and 36% for females. About 40% of males engage in heavy alcohol consumption in the country.
Deputy Minister of Health Do Xuan Tuyen called for as strong engagement in the efforts to turn the tide on alcohol harm as against COVID-19. The recommended solutions include:
- Localities set up their own steering boards for alcohol harm prevention and control. Through these boards concrete tasks can be assigned to each sector and level of authority and the creation of plans for the implementation of the law can be ensured, to facilitate consistent actions that match local conditions.
- Alcohol prevention be included in work regulations of organizations such as banning alcohol use before and during work hours and when driving and stipulating agency leaders’ responsibility if their staff commit violations.
- Including alcohol prevention in resolutions of provincial-level People’s Councils to enhance law enforcement.
While the alcohol harm prevention law was a win for public health in Vietnam, the law was severely watered down compared to the original draft due to Big Alcohol interference.
The World Health Organization reports, that in Vietnam,
- an estimated 79,000 deaths a year are tied to alcohol.
- the costs from alcohol harm amount to 1.3% to 3.3% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).