Alcohol is cheap, available, and extremely accessible in Laos, where children can freely purchase it without the bat of an adult eyelid.
According to Phonchan Saengphouvan of the Vientiane Capital Information, Culture and Tourism Department, underage drinking is common at restaurants and bars across the country.
“A lack of strict rules and education campaigns are the main reasons students take to drinking alcohol,” said Phonchan in a report by the Vientiane Times.
He said it was not difficult to monitor such activity, with students drinking publicly while in school uniform.
A World Health Organisation report ranked Laos as top alcohol consumer of ASEAN, averagng 7 litres per person per year.
While a significant proportion of the Lao population enjoys a drink, young people are drinking to a point where it is affecting their studies.
Meanwhile, little is being done to curb the issue of underage drinking besides the shutdown of a few bars that had opened close to the National University of Laos and other schools and colleges.