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MONDAY, October 03, 2022
Easing control on booze production will have wider social impact, warns Alcohol Watch

Easing control on booze production will have wider social impact, warns Alcohol Watch

SUNDAY, February 06, 2022

Alcohol Watch voiced concerns on Saturday after the opposition’s proposal to make it easier for small brewers to enter the market won a good response in Parliament.

Four days ago, a group of Move Forward MPs led by Taopiphop Limjittrakorn proposed that the 2017 Excise Tax Act be amended so small brewers can obtain permits more easily. The current standards set by the Finance Ministry are too strict and expensive for small players.

The proposal won a good response in Parliament with many MPs from both sides supporting it. However, the draft could not be voted upon because the House failed to achieve quorum.

Kamron Chudecha, coordinator of Alcohol Watch, said there were many concerns even though the bill is widely accepted. He said though Alcohol Watch was not against removing the monopoly but was concerned about the impact greater access to booze would have on people’s health. Also, he said, there is no guarantee about how much responsibility small brewers will be willing to take.

“I will propose this health matter once production guidelines have been revised. There should be a set of rules that make brewers responsible to society. Salespeople should be taught about consumers’ safety. They should know when it is time to stop selling or serving alcohol,” he said.

More than 3 million people die from alcohol across the world yearly. To tackle this problem, the World Health Organisation is calling on countries to reduce their population’s booze consumption by 10 per cent by 2025.

Chuwit Chantarod, another coordinator with Alcohol Watch, said that up to 150,000 deaths in Thailand per year can be attributed to conditions caused by alcohol consumption like cancer, stroke, ischemic heart disease and diabetes.

Admitting that getting an alcoholic to give up booze is not an easy task, he said, manufacturers and sellers should also take some responsibility for the problem. He said the sellers and producers seem to float above the problem, placing the responsibility completely on the drinker. He said there has been little or no move to make the manufacturer or seller take responsibility for something that has such a huge impact on society.

“I would like to see political parties come up with more serious measures to ease the impact, like limiting sales licences based on the proportion of the population.

“Don’t just look at the good side of the law, it’s also time to focus on qualified sellers who are responsible and create fewer social problems instead of just focusing on quantity,” Chuwit said.

Getting drunk in Thailand is easier than anywhere else thanks to the fact that nearly 600,000 businesses can legally sell and serve booze in the country.