Alcohol ban near schools opposed

Economy July 15, 2015 01:00

By The Nation

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The National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Commission's approval last Friday of a draft declaration on the suspension of all beverage-alcohol sales in a 300-metre radius around academic institutions will have an impact on alcohol consumption in restaurants an

The association said the new measure failed to address the situation of underage drinking directly because of the lack of restrictions on actual consumption. Conceived without a thorough analysis of its impact, the draft also fails to take into account the opinions of all stakeholders.

Sales of beverage alcohol are not limited to just entertainment and service venues. They also take place via retailers, wholesalers, shopping malls, restaurants and other food outlets, hotels and tourist attractions – all of which represent key components in Thailand’s economy and society.

The declaration’s enforcement would severely affect the service sector, employment levels, related businesses, and society as a whole, the association said. Key leisure and tourism areas for Thais and foreigners alike would be hit by the suspension – including Nimmanhemin Road in Chiang Mai, MBK Center, Siam Paragon, Ratchaprasong Intersection, restaurants in Sukhumvit, the Thai Army Club, MuangAke Golf Club, and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club.

The declaration would have a direct impact on 30 per cent of restaurants and other food-related businesses, representing total damage of Bt115 billion. Additionally, it could lead to the loss of 125,000 jobs, according to the association, resulting in hardship for the families of the unemployed.

Furthermore, the measure has yet to find international acceptance and could lower the confidence among domestic and international investors alike before culminating in long-lasting socio-economic damage, it said.

The association believes that the current ban on sales of beverage alcohol to minors below 20 years of age is already an effective measure for tackling underage drinking. In addition to carrying a heavier penalty for offenders, it is also an internationally accepted practice that only needs to be more stringently enforced in tandem with efforts to encourage responsible conduct among sellers and buyers alike.

The new declaration, on the other hand, stands to put ethical businesses and consumers in unfair circumstances.

For these reasons, the association called for the draft policy of suspending beverage-alcohol sales in a 300-metre radius around academic institutions to be revised.

It proposed that any and all future laws pertaining to beverage alcohol be developed with full consideration of their impacts, taking into account the opinions of all connected stakeholders, in order to ensure that the resulting laws are truly effective at tackling the issues that arise from improper alcohol consumption.