A most noteworthy accomplishment in the first six months of 2019, was the passage of the Alcohol Control Law on June 14th. HealthBridge Vietnam provided technical support to the Ministry of Health when it was drafting the legislation, wrote the related communications materials, and engaged in effective media outreach, and advocacy directed at policy makers, in partnership with the Ministry.
We interviewed Le Thi Thu, Tobacco Control and Non-Communicable Disease Prevention Program Manager at HealthBridge Vietnam and asked her to share her thoughts on the significance of the law and its most important aspects.
1) What are some of the things that will be controlled (by the Alcohol Control Law), specifically?
The Law on prevention and control of alcohol related harms will take effect January 1, 2020. Specific regulations under the Law include:
- People under 18 are prohibited from directly participating in producing, using, purchasing, or advertising of alcohol;
- Regulating places where alcohol use is not allowed and alcohol selling is prohibited (health facilities, educational institution, social assistance facilities, establishments or areas for care/nurturing/entertainment for people under 18 years old, workplaces);
- Prohibiting advertising alcohol of 15% ABV and above; a limited/partial ban of advertising alcohol of under 15% ABV on some communication channels, such as means of transport, televisions and radio, outdoor vehicles, publications for people under 18 years old.
- Completely prohibiting alcohol use when driving vehicles.
2) What do you think in the law has the potential to most reduce the damages caused by alcohol?
The Law on Prevention and Control of Alcohol related harms is issued with the highest goal of protecting human health. The Law’s provisions were developed using the World Health Organization’s recommendations on best practice policies to control alcohol related harms including control of availability; control of advertisement, promotion and sponsorship; and, control of drinking and driving. Of those, the drinking and driving control policy has been regulated at the highest recommended level with a complete ban on the use of alcohol before and while participating in transportation.
All of these regulations are important in controlling the harmful effects of alcohol and should be done synchronously in order to effectively reduce the damages caused by alcohol.
It is also important to mention the alcohol tax and price policy. Increasing tax and price are best practice policies that the World Health Organization has recommended to control the harmful effects of alcohol. Because the taxes and price are specified in the Excise Tax Law, it has not been regulated under the Alcohol Control Law. The Government of Vietnam needs to increase alcohol taxes to reduce alcohol affordability which has been increasing in Vietnam over the past two decades.
3) What about the law will improve public health?
The passage of the Law on Prevention and Control of Alcohol related harms is an important milestone in the roadmap to control alcohol use and related harms in Vietnam.
The law was developed with the aim of "Institution of policies to reduce the health, social and economic consequences of alcohol and alcohol use through measures to reduce alcohol consumption and accessibility; strict management of the supply and restriction of the availability of alcohol; reducing harms and ensuring resources for prevention and control alcohol related harms, contributing to protecting and improving people's health ”, so with the prescribed measures, the Law is expected to contribute to reduce the use as well as consequences of alcohol use in Vietnam.
However, in order to ensure the Law is effective, it is important to have strong commitment and involvement of the authorities assigned in the Law, especially the role of the heads of agencies in enforcing the law, and raising awareness and supporting the community in complying with Law’s regulations. See our project: Facilitating alcohol control law development in Vietnam.