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Readers discuss the risks of Viet Nam's thirst for beer

Update: April, 25/2014 - 09:40

Viet Nam consumed an average of three billion litres of beer last year, making the nation Southeast Asia's beer champion. The country has been ranked third in Asia and twenty fifth in the world. Its consumption has now reached more than three billion litres a year. Readers discuss the pros and cons of drinking.

William Ribbing American, Florida

While Viet Nam is among the top beer drinking nations, there seems to be a lack of education about the problems in consuming large quantities.

Alcohol can lead to three major health problems, cirrhosis of the liver, kidney failure and bladder infections. Several years ago, the World Health Organisation issued a warning about excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In the US, beer consumption is still high, but more people now understand the unhealthy side effects. However, few understand that alcohol also wastes money for the family.

In Viet Nam, it is common for drunken husbands to go home and abuse their wives and families. Many countries including Germany, which is the highest beer drinking country in the world, are now addressing the problems concerning excessive consumption.

As people realise the damage to their health and the resulting costs in medical treatment, they often begin to observe more common sense and moderation. In the end, it is up to individuals to make their own decisions. They can continue to abuse themselves and their families or they can learn moderation and self control.

Andrew Burden Canadian, Ha Noi

When I was in my early twenties in Western Canada, I would drink many beers then stagger to my motorcycle and ride back to army base. It took me a few beers to figure out that if I could make it to my motorbike and not fall over, I could (probably) make it back all right. I used to have my ID card ready to present to the Calgary traffic cops. I did this several times. Cool!

History repeats itself. In Ha Noi 20 years later, I was riding a motorbike and carrying a bottle of liquor. When I saw a group of police, I hid the bottle, but then realised where I was. So I raised the bottle and yelled out to the cops. They smiled and I went on my way. Not cool!

Don't be like me. If you drink, think about getting a taxi. Don't drink alone or when you are angry or too happy. Don't brag about being Vietnamese being good drinkers.

Bia hoi drinking is great, but just have a few light beers - and go home sober.

Robert Fries American, HCM City

According to Wikipedia, Viet Nam is ranked at No. 42 for beer consumed per person per year (19 litres). The United States is ranked at thirteenth as Americans guzzle about 78 litres. The ranking will probably go down now as marijuana is being legalised in many states.

When I am living in Viet Nam, there are so many parties and weddings that the first Vietnamese I learned was "mot, hai, ba, Yo!" Not being a big drinker, my saving grace at these functions was to stick a big ice cube in the glass and pour beer over it.

If it wasn't for that custom, I would guess that there would be a whole lot of people passed out after parties. The core question is: "Why does anyone feel a need to imbibe to the point of drunkenness?"

By the way, the number one nation for beer guzzling is the Czech Republic at 144 litres.

Dinh Nam Anh Vietnamese

The fact that three billion litres of beer was consumed last year is scary. Beer drinking in Viet Nam has become so commonplace that people rarely comment.

The Government should take drastic measures to reduce the amount of beer each person drinks. For example, it could place a tax on every litre of beer produced. This would raise the cost to the point where large quantities were no longer affordable.

Similarly, restaurants and cafes should be forced to pay a penalty every time they get caught selling beer to minors. Another way to reduce beer consumption is to raise awareness of the harmful effects of beer through special workshops and talks, especially in schools and community centres.

This should give the next generation sufficient knowledge to be able to resist the temptation. In conclusion, there should definitely be more laws and policies against beer drinking to reduce Viet Nam's consumption, as well as events to raise awareness of the harmful effects of the fluid. — VNS

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