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Draft law bans online alcohol sales

A draft law on the prevention of and fight against damage caused by excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages, prepared by the Ministry of Health, bans liquor sales over the internet and through vending machines, the local media reported.

Delivery men upload crates of beer onto a truck
Delivery men upload crates of beer onto a truck

The Ministry of Health presented it at the 27th meeting of the National Assembly’s (NA’s) Standing Committee on September 17. The draft law also bans the sale of alcohol to people under 18 years old. The NA Committee for Social Affairs, which is in charge of assessing the draft law, suggested a ban on beer sales on the internet, in addition to spirits.

Based on international experience, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien noted that the social burden was mounting in countries with a high rate of consumption of alcoholic drinks and a high percentage of young people abusing those beverages, while prevailing policies and laws had yet to control these issues.

Therefore, a law with more stringent regulations on alcohol sales is necessary to reduce the harm caused by excessive consumption of spirits and beer.

Viewpoints on the ban differ, as some agree with the ban to minimize easy access to alcoholic drinks, while others are against the proposal, suggesting the limitation of liquor sales over the internet should be weighed against the needs of buyers and sellers, according to Nguyen Thuy Anh, head of the NA Committee for Social Affairs.

The appraising agency suggested the law-making body add more specific guidelines on ways to execute the bans, the age limits to be applied to staff working at stores selling alcohol and sales channels similar to the internet that must be monitored.

Some participants remarked that the ban on online sales of alcohol was unfeasible as there is no prohibition on marketing spirits on the internet. In addition, several attendees noted that only alcohol abuse damages health, adding that the alcohol content and level of harm from drinking alcohol and beer are not equivalent, so the law-making body should consider naming the types of alcoholic beverages and adjusting some regulations on the draft law.

To wrap up the discussion, Uong Chu Luu, NA vice chairman, asserted that the NA Standing Committee agreed with the necessity and the pivotal role of the draft law, stating that it will have a major impact on the economy, culture and society. Therefore, lawmakers should carefully weigh the possible consequences of policies stipulated in the draft law.

The law-making and appraising bodies were requested to continue working on the draft law to ensure its feasibility before presenting it to the upcoming NA sixth session.