Hongkong: Increasing Alcohol Policy Implementation
Health warnings could be put on alcoholic beverage containers in Hong Kong as the government considers its next step in an effort to curb binge alcohol use.
Hongkong has recently implemented alcohol availability regulations, requiring customer identification proving they were over 18 years of age to purchase alcohol. Retailers found selling alcohol to minors are facing tougher prosecution.
More alcohol policy to curb binge alcohol use
Health minister Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee told a radio programme on Saturday that the new rule was to plug loopholes in the previous law, because officials had found a worrying trend of binge alcohol use by young people.
Although bars and clubs were already banned from serving or selling alcohol to minors, retailers did not have to follow the rule before. The Tobacco and Alcohol Control Office has put an extra 30 inspectors on Hong Kong’s streets to enforce the new rule.
The new law covers all kinds of sale and supply. But concerns have been voiced over possible loopholes in online sales, as inspectors have no power to check buyers’ age at home. The minister explained the government was concerned about that and would keep a close eye on the issue, and see if any changes were needed.
Learning from tobacco control
Asked if the government would bring in stronger measures similar to those regulating tobacco, such as warning messages on packs and minimum prices, Chan said the government would consider it.
There are for sure other intervening measures. We would do it step by step,” the minister said.
The government has an action plan to prevent and control non-communicable diseases in the next seven years, including a target to reduce per capita alcohol use by 10%.
According to the experiences of regulating tobacco, we have to do it [stronger measures] in a multipronged approach, the minister explained.
Alcohol is classified as a group one carcinogen. As a health bureau, we are obliged to spread the message.”
Asked if the government would set an example by banning alcohol at official banquets, the Minister said abstinence was already practised by her bureau and she herself was living free from alcohol.
By serving as a model … I hope more departments will follow,” she said.