Ministry unveils proposals on late night liquor sales

Those midnight runs for 12-packs of Beer Hanoi might soon get a bit more complicated.

The Ministry of Health on July 23 introduced three flexible plans on the late-night sale of alcohol after an earlier proposal for an outright ban on after-hours beer and liquor sales caused a public outcry.

One plan would stop sales from 10pm to 6am. The ministry also proposed allowing province and city leaders to write their own alcohol regulations.

The third proposal is to avoid a ban altogether, seeking out other ways curb alcohol abuse, such as limiting availability.

Speaking at a press conference on July 23, the ministry's Legal Department Deputy Director Tran Thi Trang stressed that a ban on the late sale of alcohol products would effectively minimise the harm of beer and liquor abuse to community, such as traffic accidents, and domestic violence.

"The most ideal plan also is the most challenging one, and it requires a lot of effort for implementation," Trang said.

Nearly two-thirds of all traffic accidents and family violence cases, including sexual violence, are alcohol-related, according to recent statistics.

Nearly 170 countries - including 9 ASEAN nations – have bans on late-night alcohol sales, the health ministry reported.

However, such a law in Vietnam could have some negative effects. The health ministry representative said such a ban might harm tourism.

Trang said such fears were unfounded. "Thailand and Singapore - two neighbouring countries with rapid tourism development - also have had bans on the late sale of alcohol products," Trang explained.

The three proposals will be made public for feedback. One plan will be used for drafting a law aimed at preventing beer and liquor abuse, which will be submitted for the National Assembly's approval in 2016.

A survey conducted by the Vietnam Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Association showed that the country had consumed around 3 billion litres of beer in 2012, equivalent to about US$3 billion.