Vietnam proposes beer advertisement ban to curb drinking

Vietnam's health ministry has proposed an advertisement ban on beer in an attempt to cut consumption in one of the world's heaviest drinking populations.
 

Customers hold glasses of beer at a restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, June 24, 2017. Photo by Reuters
The ministry is seeking public opinions for its proposal to impose a ban on beer advertisement, an extension from a current ban on wine advertisement, Tran Thi Trang, deputy head of the ministry’s legal department, said at a meeting on May 25.

Under the proposal, beer and alcoholic beverage companies would be banned from any form of promotions of products with more than 15% alcohol. Products with lower alcohol volume would be banned from advertisements in public places, televisions and movies, those which are exposed to children audiences.

"Vietnam has been considered an interesting beer market. But we currently do not have strict regulations to restrict the consumption among children and teenagers, who now have all-time access to beer advertisements," Trang said.

The ministry also recommended that all beer and wine products not be advertised on social networks, and that alcoholic drinks not allowed to be given as gift to consumers, or used as prize for contests.

The proposal is part of a draft law on preventing adverse affects of alcoholic drinks, which will be reviewed by lawmakers this October. Currently, the advertisement law only prohibits using booze with more than 15% alcohol in promotional programs and advertisements. But the ministry said that too much consumption of beer or booze is harmful all the same.

As part of the bill, the ministry has also suggested options aimed to restrict the sale of alcohol at night, specifically after 10 p.m.

Vietnam is famous for its beer drinking culture. It is widely believed that business deals in Vietnam tend to go more smoothly over a few drinks at the negotiating table. Vietnam is the biggest beer market in Southeast Asia, consuming nearly four billion liters last year.

The country spends on average US$3.4 billion on alcohol each year, or 3% of the government’s budget revenue, according to official data. The figure translates to US$300 per capita, while spending on health averages US$113 per person, according to the health ministry.

As much as 40% of traffic accidents in Vietnam are linked to excessive drinking, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), an alarming rate for a country where road crashes kill an average one person every hour.

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