Police will monitor Thai social media to punish any actors, “net idols”, or celebrities who pose messages and pictures inviting others to drink alcoholic beverages. There is a fine of Bt50,000-Bt200,000 for publicly encouraging alcohol consumption under the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.
Regional police officers were instructed in a videoconference with high-ranking officials to monitor and proceed with legal actions against people who make posts promoting drinking.
Speaking from Royal Thai Police headquarters, national police chief advisor, Pol General Weerachai Songmetta, noted that five Nonthaburi-based celebrities who posed with alcoholic drinks to encourage others to consume booze had been investigated.
He said that he knows other famous people are doing the same and warns that they should remove their posts from all social media channels before police gather evidence and take action against them.
Weerachai said police must reintroduce this measure because of the growing use of online media as an advertising channel inviting people to drink.
Dr Nipon Chinanonwet, director of the Office of Alcohol Control Committee, joined Weerachai in the videoconference.
A recent study found that approximately 30 per cent of people studied started to drink alcohol after seeing images of their favourite celebrities posed with drinks.
Police would punish first-time offenders with a Bt50,000 fine and repeat offenders with a Bt200,000 fine, Weerachai said. Those providing information leading to an arrest would get one-fourth of the fine money as a reward, he added.
Weerachai also reported that alcoholic beverage control measures taken by police during Asarnha Puja Day and Buddhist Lent Day had seen a drop in the number of shop owners illegally selling alcoholic drinks. A police operation in six provinces had searched 151 shops and found only 14 violations of the law.
Section 32 of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act bans anyone from advertising alcoholic drinks and from showing the names and logos of alcoholic drinks to promote them. The law made headlines in 2015 when health activists called on authorities to investigate a beer company's alleged social-media campaign. The campaign featured seven celebrities, including Pakorn "Dome" Lam and Virithipa "VJ Woonsen" Pakdeeprasong, posting images of themselves with bottles of the brew.