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NA To Consider Law On Alcoholic Beverages

The Law on Alcoholic Beverage Control will be submitted to the National Assembly for consideration at the end of this year, aimed at reducing the rate of drinking related illness in the years to come.

Director General of the Hygiene and Health Promotion Department, Dr Phath Keungsaneth, said this week that the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with involved government, private and international organisations is drafting the law on alcohol control, which is expected to be presented to the assembly at the end of this year.

“If the law is approved by the assembly, activities on alcohol control should be implemented in the following year,” he said, adding that a prohibition on any forms of beer and alcohol advertising should be practiced following the law’s inception.

Apparently, girls serving beer to customers at certain restaurants will no longer be allowed. In addition, the new law will not allow beer shops to open near schools, educational institutes or temples.

So far, many countries around the world have already enacted laws on alcohol control in order to protect the health of their communities.

According to a survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Laos ranks number one out of the 10 Asean countries for alcohol beverage/beer consumption, with an average of 7 litres of alcohol equivalent consumed per person per year.

The survey also found that Lao women drink more alcohol than women in other Indochina countries.

Laos has many ethnic groups and each has its own traditions and culture but alcohol plays an important role throughout Lao society, the survey found.

The survey showed that many people spend six months a year (June to November) cultivating crops such as rice and sweet corn, with some of the crop used to make alcohol.

The rest of the year (December to May) is when many festivals and social events take place. These festivals provide plenty of opportunities for drinking, with people partying hardest over international New Year, the Chinese and Vietnamese New Year, Lao New Year, boat racing festivals and the rocket festival.

In addition, parties are held to celebrate a promotion, a new baby, a wedding, or a new house, while returnees are fervently welcomed home after a trip overseas.

Unsurprisingly the survey found that the high consumption of alcohol is a frequent cause of road accidents and domestic violence. It has dire effects on people’s health and often puts their safety in jeopardy, with road accidents maiming and killing many people each year.

In 2009, some 5,490 road accidents were reported in Laos, leaving 9,664 people injured and 753 dead. In 2010, the number of reported accidents rose to 5,802, with 11,128 people injured and 775 killed.

In 2011, a total of 6,541 accidents were recorded, leaving 11,503 people injured and resulting in 902 deaths. In 2012, the figures were slightly lower, with 6,164 accidents recorded in which 10,191 people were injured and 888 people were killed.

The WHO survey also found that the advertising of alcoholic beverages is on the increase in newspapers and magazines and on radio and television.

At the same time the number of bars, entertainment venues, hotels and guesthouses, which are all outlets for alcoholic beverages, is on the rise without restriction, making it all too easy for people to gather for innumerable drinking sessions.

Source: Vientiane Times