The International Alcohol Control Study in Vietnam
Alcohol is a leading risk factor for death and disability globally, and Vietnam is no different. The consumption of commercial and non-commercial (or informal alcohol) is growing. According to a 2001 World Health Organization survey, 46% of Vietnamese males over the age of 15 years consume alcohol at least once a week. Alcohol's health costs include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and liver diseases. It is also an important risk factor for road traffic injuries, accounting for 15% of the 12,000 traffic deaths per year in Vietnam and 62% of the injuries. It was also responsible for increased aggressive behaviour, including 30% of those arrested for public disturbances. The Vietnamese government has tried to regulate homemade alcohol by putting policies and regulations, such as minimum age requirements, in place. However, enforcement for alcohol-related offences, including impaired driving, is weak. The Ministry of Health is working on strengthening alcohol control laws, but the lack of nationally representative data on alcohol use and its effects has made progress slow. This project is part of the multi-country International Alcohol Control (IAC) study. It includes case studies and uses natural experiments to assess the outcome and impacts of alcohol policies in Vietnam. It will address the potential effects of: -alcohol taxes or pricing policies on consumption levels across different population groups; -marketing restrictions on consumption levels across different population groups; and, -policies that restrict the physical availability of alcoholic beverages or reduce the hours of sale in retail outlets on consumption levels across different population groups. The project's specific objectives include: -To measure consumption of commercial and informal alcohol; -To document policy-relevant behaviours, including: place and time of purchase, prices paid, and exposure and salience of marketing; -To analyze potential effects of pricing policies, marketing restrictions, and physical availability across different population groups; and, -To evaluate how differences and changes in alcohol policy influence drinking behaviour and policy-related mediating variables. This study will provide internationally comparative data on Vietnam's alcohol policy and its effect. Given the increasing interest in the issue among policymakers, there is substantial potential for the research results to be translated into preventive health policies and programs.