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New Decree Makes Selling Beer to People Under 18 a Fineable Offense

Beer is now legally off-limits for Vietnamese teens, but it’s unclear if the regulations will effectively deter underage drinking.

Phu Nu reports that the Vietnamese government recently issued Decree 98 regarding punitive measures against illegal commercial activities according to the Law on Prevention and Control of Harms of Liquor and Beer Abuse. 

The decree, which will take effect from October 15, dictates that selling beer and liquor to those under 18 years old will result in a fine of VND500,000–1 million. Before, only liquor was listed as an alcoholic beverage that sales of could be fined.

Additionally, the decree states that a penalty of VND3–5 million is imposed on alcohol producers hiring workers under 18 years old for alcohol production or trade. Selling beer or liquor via vending machines or at places where such drinks are prohibited also carries a similar penalty.

Earlier this year, the new draft alcohol consumption law became valid, which includes policies that forbid forcing, encouraging or enticing others to drink alcohol. However, some National Assembly members, such as Phạm Thị Minh Hiền from Phu Yen Province, felt that stricter regulations are needed to keep young Vietnamese away from alcohol.

Hiền quoted statistics from research showing that as many as 87.6% of children in a study had consumed an alcoholic beverage without knowing. While the law is very detailed in regulating beer and liquor, it does not account for the range of alcoholic drinks actually available on the market, some of which are advertised as “cider,” “fermented fruit drinks” or “sparkling juices.” A portion of these drinks have similar ABV levels to that of beer.