The case of Thai celebrities posting pictures of themselves online endorsing alcoholic beverages has been resolved as they have been brought up to speed with Thai laws, said Deputy Prime Minister Air Chief Marshal Prajin Jantong.
They were simply ignorant of the law, he said, but they will feel the long arm of the law if they repeat the offence and violate the relevant laws.
Prajin said the law would be applied equally to celebrities. He said this case emerged from the fact that celebrities had the public attention hence their behaviour could create a social trend.
Dr Samarn Futrakul, director of the Office of Alcoholic Drinks Control Committee of the Diseases Control Department, yesterday said the 30 Thai celebrities who posted pictures of themselves with alcoholic beverage on social media obviously violated article 32 of the Alcohol Beverage Control Act.
He said they shouldn’t get away by claiming they didn’t get paid for such posts.
The celebrities’ offence could be divided in two: firstly, they let people see and hear the alcohol advertising message clearly to yield commercial gain, which is illegal even if they did not get paid; and secondly, despite the claim that they did not do it for their own commercial gain, the action was still a gesture to describe the product’s benefits and convince others directly or indirectly to drink the alcohol beverages.
“These actors, singers or athletes are like magnets for copy cats and there were also some captions convincing people to drink. All these could be considered a violation of article 32,” he added.
“Initially, seven out of the 30 celebrities needed to be summoned because they participated in the alcohol company’s campaign to get people to post pictures on Instagram. The winners would have their photos taken with these celebrities,” Samarn said.
The remaining celebrities confessed to participating “to help promote” on their own. The offered to pay a fine, which Samarn said was doable.
However, if such cases are often repeated then the fine wouldn’t be enough punishment, he said. This same legal standard is used for the general public too, he warned.