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Plan to ban alcohol on Thai New Year

Feb 15. 2019
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By The Nation

No alcoholic beverages will be sold on April 13, the traditional Thai New Year, if the Alcohol Control Committee’s (ACC) proposal is approved.

The ACC passed a resolution to ban the sale of alcoholic drinks on the national holiday, but it will have to get the green light from the Alcohol Policy Committee before it takes effect.

“We will present it to the Alcohol Policy Committee next month,” said ACC deputy chair Dr Sukhum Karnchanapimai, who is also the permanent secretary for Public Health, after the meeting. 

He said the ACC passed a resolution because statistics show road casualties are highest on this day every year. 

April 13 marks the traditional Thai New Year and is a part of long Songkran holidays when millions of people hit the roads for home-province visits or vacations. Revellers often celebrated Songkran with alcohol. 

In Thailand, drunk driving is a major cause of road accidents.

“Records show between 50 and 60 per cent of adults get behind the wheel even after drinking. The percentage is even higher among those aged younger than 20 years,” Sukhum said. 

He said the ACC had pushed for the alcohol-sale ban to prevent people from the danger of drunk driving. 

“Even if we don’t drink drive, there is risk of accidents if others drink drive,” he said. 

He said the ban on the sale of alcohol during five important religious holidays proves effective in reducing road accidents. These days are Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, Asharnha Bucha Day, the Buddhist Lent Day, and the End of Buddhist Lent Day.

“The latest resolution … applies to April 13, 2019 only. But if evaluation shows good results, we will propose the ban on alcoholic sale on April 13 of every year,” Sukhum said.

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