Heineken: Rise in legal alcohol purchasing age may exacerbate contraband issue

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 14, 2017.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The slated increase in the legal purchasing age (LPA) for alcohol in Malaysia from 18 to 21 years old, effective Dec 1 this year, may worsen the issue of contraband alcoholic products in the country, said Heineken Malaysia Bhd managing director Hans Essaadi.

The brewer had advised the government to consider effective enforcement measures for the increase in LPA, announced in June last year, as part of the Food (Amendment) Regulations 2016.

“If you think about the increase in LPA in itself, it is a good initiative, but if it is not enforced properly, then the 18- to 21-years-old would turn to contraband,” he told reporters after the group’s annual general meeting here yesterday.

Esaaddi said contraband is an ongoing concern for the brewery industry, adding that the group had expressed its concerns to the government about whether or not the LPA increase would really help curb underage alcohol consumption, given the availability of illicit alcohol in the country.

“In terms of control and responsible consumption, [the LPA increase would] make matters worse. If we turn [consumption for that age group] into a forced illegal practice, it may not have the best outcome,” he added.