Health networks want higher taxes on drinks in 4am closure zones
Health networks are suggesting raising the tax on alcoholic beverages in pilot zones where entertainment venues would be allowed to remain open until 4am.
The proposal is aimed at mitigating the impact of alcohol consumption.
The proposal was made during a forum on Thursday hosted by the Media for Health Foundation (MHF) and the Health Promotion Movement (HPM). The event aimed to discuss public concerns regarding the government’s measure to allow entertainment venues, such as pubs, bars, restaurants, and karaoke joints, to stay open until 4am in a bid to boost tourism and domestic spending.
Certain zones in four provinces, namely Bangkok, Chonburi, Phuket and Chiang Mai, have been selected by the Interior Ministry to pilot the move, which is expected to start within this month.
MHF president Apiwat Ketthat said that extending the opening hours of pubs to 4am, from the current 1am or 2am, would likely create social impacts, such as road accidents, crimes and health problems. He urged responsible agencies to study the possible consequences of the measure extensively to ensure that the benefits outweigh the downsides.
Apiwat also cited a study by the Faculty of Economics, Thammasat University, which found that Thai visitors of entertainment venues in tourist provinces often drink from 5pm to 11pm, while most foreigners visiting these places drink from 8pm-11pm.
The study found that of 900 Thai and 300 foreign respondents, only 30% drink from 11pm to 2pm. This group is likely to continue drinking if pubs and bars were to stay open longer, Apiwat pointed out, while questioning the economic benefits for businesses.
The study also found that if alcohol price goes up from 70 baht to 160 baht per standard unit, alcohol consumption by Thais will likely drop from 0.45 to 0.27 unit per hour, while those of foreigners will also go down from 0.56 to 0.25 unit per hour.
“Raising the alcoholic beverage tax in the pilot area is a necessary measure to mitigate the impact from alcohol consumption. This has been concluded by many studies in several countries,” said Apiwat.
He added that the increased tax revenue could be used in campaigns to relieve social impacts, such as a fund for victims of drunk driving, which he estimated costs the government around 258 million baht per year.