Experts have raised warnings over underage drinking in Vietnam as well as the consequences.
According to the World Health Organisation, alcohol is the direct cause of 30 illnesses and indirectly cause over 200 illnesses. Nguyen Trung Nguyen, director of the Poison Control Centre at Bach Mai Hospital, said teenagers were going into huge changes both physically and mentally.
Alcohol could affect the molecular and cellular levels to the process of brain formation and development, hindering learning abilities and memory. Drinking can lead to unsafe sex, violence, and accidents. Teenagers are more affected by alcohol than adults and will suffer greater brain damages, puberty disorders and weaker immune system.
Nguyen Huy Quang from the Ministry of Health said underage drinking had many social implications. A survey done by the Police Academy in 2015 shows that 70% of those that committed criminal acts aged under 30 were under the influence of alcohol.
Those who drink before 15 years old are five times more likely to face alcohol problems compared to those who wait until they are 21 years old. They are also six times more likely to be violence, involved in traffic accidents and suffer from injuries.
Vietnam is one of the largest alcohol-consuming countries in the world and underage drinking is becoming a problem. A survey conducted in 2013 among children from 13 to 17 years old show that 33% of males and 18% of female students had drunk alcohol in the previous 30 days. 49% male and 38% female said they started drinking under 14 years old. 31% male and 15% female said they drank until they were drunk at least once.
According to various international research, promotional campaigns are one of the main causes of increasing underage drinking problem.
The 2019 Law on Preventing and Combating the Harmful Effects of Alcohol and Beer clearly states that people under 18 years old are banned from drinking, stores are banned from selling alcohol to underage people and alcohol makers are banned from using underage employees. The law also tightens control over advertisements for alcohol.
Up to 3,785 cases of drink driving have been handled in the first seven days of 2020, with total fines of more than VND12.5 billion ($539,400).
A strict drink driving law has left some small businesses feeling the pinch, with many claiming customers are shunning bia hơi fearing they will fall foul of the tough new regulations.