TABBA speaks out about alcohol ban near schools



In response to the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Commission’s ruling on Friday, July 10 to approve a draft declaration on the suspension of all alcoholic beverages sales in a 300-meter radius around academic institutions, the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association would like to express strong concerns regarding the declaration’s inability to effectively tackle the issue of underage alcohol consumption. The new measure fails to directly address the underage drinking situation due to the lack of restrictions on actual consumption. Conceived without a thorough analysis of its impact, the declaration also fails to take into account the opinions of all stakeholders. Sales of alcohol beverages are not limited to just entertainment and service venues. Instead, they also take place via retailers, wholesalers, shopping malls, restaurants and 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. Key leisure and tourism areas for Thais and foreigners alike will be hit by the suspension – including Nimmanhemin Road in Chiang Mai, MBK Center, Siam Paragon, Ratchaprasong intersection, restaurants in Sukhumvit, the Thai Army Club, Muang Ake Golf Club, and the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The declaration will have direct impact on 30% of restaurants and food-related businesses, representing a total damage of 115 billion baht. Additionally, it may lead to the loss of 125,000 jobs, resulting in further hardship for the families of the unemployed. Furthermore, the heavy-handed measure has yet to find international acceptance and could lower the confidence among domestic and international investors alike before culminating in long-lasting socioeconomic damage.

The Association believes that the current ban on sales of alcoholic beverages 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, we hereby call for the policy of suspending alcoholic beverages sales in a 300-meter radius around academic institutions to be revised. Furthermore, we propose that any and all future laws pertaining to alcoholic beverages are developed with full consideration of their impact, 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.

The Association stands firm on its commitment to support government policies that prevent underage consumption of alcoholic beverages through the use of appropriate, fair, and effective measures. We are also committed to foster among our members widespread understanding in the dangers of improper alcoholic beverages consumption behaviors and encourage efforts to combat the issue. We are ready to work alongside the public sector to implement an integrated, sustainable solution to these issues without violating the rights of ethical businesses and consumers who have made an informed choice to drink responsibly.

Shutchada Chandrangsu & Pattara Tundulyasaree

14 July 2015