Alcohol impact prevention needed to improve public health

November 17, 2018 - 09:06

Most of National Assembly (NA) deputies believe something needs to be done to lower alcohol consumption nationwide.

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến. – VNA/VNS Photo Văn Điệp

HÀ NỘI – Most of National Assembly (NA) deputies believe something needs to be done to lower alcohol consumption nationwide.

Experts have warned that alcohol-related diseases are putting a huge strain on the health service.

Now NA deputies want to look at alcohol related laws and limit alcohol consumption.

The World Health Organisation estimated that the average Vietnamese person over 15 years old consumed 8.3 litres of pure alcohol in 2016.

The country ranks top in South East Asia and the third in Asia for beer consumption.

Deputy Lê Thị Yến from northern Phú Thọ Province said the habit of drinking alcohol existed a long time ago in many countries, including Việt Nam. The alcohol industry contributes around VNĐ50 trillion (US$2.1 billion) to the State budget each year and creates roughly 220,000 jobs.

However, she said, negative impacts of alcohol consumption on public health, economy and society kept increasing and was one among challenges facing the country in fulfilling sustainable development targets.

Deputy Phạm Trọng Nhân from southern Bình Dương Province said while the whole country had to strive hard for every growth rate, alcohol consumption cost at least 1-3 per cent of GDP (according to the WHO), or it was holding back the country’s development.

“Although the alcohol industry contributes to economic development and generates jobs, it left huge impacts on society. Alcohol is considered a vicious cycle of poverty, diseases and violence,” he said.

He stressed that preventing the adverse impacts of alcohol needed to be done comprehensively.

Deputies also discussed issues relating to alcohol advertisement, management of traditional liquor production and fund for activities held to prevent the impacts of alcohol.

The bill looks at measures to reduce the consumption of alcohol, manage alcohol supply, along with responsibilities of agencies, organisations and individuals in preventing and controlling the adverse impacts of alcohol.

The draft would ban the sale of alcoholic beverages to consumers under 18 years old.

It also bans any advertisements of beverages with an alcohol content of 15 per cent or higher and proposes levying a special tax to reduce their harmful impacts.

It proposes tightening management of traditional homemade liquor and reducing liquor production and sales by 2023.

Provincial people’s committees are responsible for encouraging local households not to sell unlicensed alcohol. Provincial authorities have been tasked with checking the quality of traditional homemade alcohols and sending the results to the Ministry of Industry and Trade by January 2023, according to the draft.

The draft law is expected to be approved at the next NA meeting in the middle of next year.

Later the same day, NA deputies discussed the draft law on adjusting and supplementing a number of articles of the Law on Public Investment. — VNS