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Vietnam's Beer Sales Down 25% Since Strict Drunk Driving Laws Come Into Force

Are you drinking less?

Bloomberg reports that beer sales in Vietnam have fallen by roughly 25% since January 1, when new zero-tolerance drunk driving laws were implemented. Under the new regulations, drivers of any motor vehicles and even bicycles face tough penalties for hitting the road with any amount of alcohol in their system.

Luong Xuan Dung, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Liquor, Beer and Beverage, told the news source: "Just look at any beer places and you will see how empty they are these days. Falling beer sales are a reality."

For several years, Vietnam has been one of the fastest-growing beer markets in Asia, with consumption quadrupling since 2004, drawing attention from the world's largest brewers. Now, motorbike drivers under the influence can be fined VND8 million and lose their license for up to two years, while car drivers face fines up to VND40 million and the same license revocation.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times reports that Heineken has been hit particularly hard. Vietnam creates around 5% of the giant's global sales and around 12% of its earnings, but sales have dropped by an estimated quarter.

Reginald Watson, consumer staples analyst at ING, told the newspaper: "You could say that this is a New Year crackdown and then after, it will go back to business as usual. If it is not [temporary], then say goodbye to a significant chunk of your growth this year."

While beer companies may be hurting as a result of the new law, many people are surely thankful for safer streets following a number of horrific accidents involving drunk drivers in recent years.

Some beer-focused restaurants, for their part, have responded by setting up their own transportation services for drunk customers.

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