The Junta currently running Thailand seems intent on doing everything possible to drive foreigners out of the country. There is no other apparent motive in the recent decree regarding the sale and promotion of alcohol products. Closing bars early, banning the promotional girls, raising the drinking age, forbidding bars and restaurants to advertise alcohol and the more sinister banning the promotion by mouth of alcohol and establishments seems utterly ridiculous for a country that has built its tourism industry on being “party central”.
The bars around Bangkok do a roaring trade because of the liberal attitudes of the past. Last year saw Bangkok lose its place as the number one destination in the world, due to the political nonsense that gripped the city for months. The government came out and said that they were putting in place tourism measures that would bring the tourists back in large numbers. Now they have immediately done the one thing that will guarantee that the tourists will look elsewhere.
As Bangkok bumbles along from one crisis to the next, Cambodia and Vietnam are showing record numbers of tourists. People are simply getting fed up of booking holidays in Thailand, then wondering what they will be walking into. In recent years, we have seen the yellow shirts, close the airport, the red shirts close the city resulting in huge loss of life and the new lot of ‘neutral’ shirts demanding a new government and getting a military coup. Can anyone think of one example where a military coup has been a positive step.
Thailand lost over a million holidays last year as tourists, cancelled holidays. Many countries were telling their nationals not to travel there. Now just as it is gearing up for the new high season this happens. Whether or not they are serious or whether it is simply a way of guaranteeing higher bribes from the bar owners remains to be seen. Either way it is an enormously negative step. Closing bars at midnight is ludicrous, the central entertainment areas of Patpong, Nana and Cowboy in Bangkok and the whole of Pattaya, thrive because of late night drinking. Does the government honestly think that millions of single men go to Thailand every year for the temples?
It is interesting that many of the expats in Thailand’s capital wanted rid of the red shirt government. If ever there was a case of being careful what you wish for, this was it.
Here are the finer points of the new legislation (there are a lot of them):
Producers and importers of alcohol and Bar owners
All alcoholic beverage packaging has clearly carry a government-approved health warning, complete with a list of ingredients. It must state clearly on the packaging “alcoholic beverage”.
Consumers cannot imbibe alcohol in the following areas:
temples or religious places (unless used in religious ceremonies)
public government owned spaces (except private residences within said area)
government buildings (except club houses, special designated commercial areas and private residences, or during special events)
education centres (except residences, parties or clubs, or where education centres are teaching the mixing of alcohol)
petrol or gas stations, public parks, and anywhere the government announces at any future date.
No alcohol can be sold on the Makhabucha, Visakabucha, Asarahabucha and Khao Pansa religious holidays, except inside hotels in order to promote tourism and stimulate the economy.
No alcohol sales permitted to anyone aged under the age of 20 years, or to anyone appearing drunk.
No alcoholic beverages to be sold by automated machines.
All non-location-specific sales are banned (ie. mobile bars, or from street vendors
no promotions, offering rights, points, lucky draws or awards and no freebies of any kind including swaps and exchanges are allowed. This includes Happy Hour promotions.
All alcoholic drinks, including photography, and logos in any language which “invite” the public to drink alcohol are banned.
Television, movies, video, all electronic formats and advertising media showing images or logos must ensure they occupy no more than 5 percent of all advertising space.
No logo may appear for more than 5 percent of total running time of the ad and last no longer than two seconds. All Advertising banned between 5am and 10pm all logos may only be shown at the end of the ad.
Print media, advertising alcohol logos must ensure they occupy no more than 5 percent of all advertising space. No alcohol advertising can occupy space on the front, back or centrefold of publications.
All other media (e.g. websites), logos must occupy less than 3% of total advertising space.
All Adverts must include one of five permissible warning messages:
Alcohol can cause cancer
Alcohol can lower sexual abilities
Alcohol may lead to paralysis or death
Alcohol is the cause of argument and crime
Alcohol damages families and societies.
Television, movies, videos, electronic or all advertising mediums showing images:
Sound or text warnings have to be perfectly clear down to each and every syllable and must last no more than two seconds.
In all text version, ’Super’ text must be in Thai Angsana, New Bold or similar fonts and in white on a black background. It must be is clear to read. All text to be no less in size than 33% of the black frame, which must be clearly different in colour from the rest of the advertisement image and in a square size no less than 25% of the advertising space, and cover the entire top of the advert. This applies also to all printed media.
Inspecting officials, rights and responsibilities
Officials may enter any premises of producers or importers of alcohol during normal working hours to fully inspect all premises and vehicles.
Officials have the authority confiscate all alcoholic products if the company not compliant with this law.
Officials may send summonses to individual people based or evidence.
Officials must show their official ID card on every visit.
All members of the public must be of assistance to inspectors.
Fines ranging between THB2,500 for non-cooperation with official inspectors and THB500,000 for any beverage companies promoting and advertising alcohol illegally. Up to six months in jail for various offences.
All promotion of alcoholic consumption is illegal
It is no illegal to offer prizes relating to alcoholic drinks
All drinks to be sold at normal costs (no happy hours) and no gifts, exchanges, or discounts of any nature.
No person can be encouraged try an alcoholic drink or sample alcohol.
No more Buy one get one free promotions
No more free mixers or ice
No more beer promotion girls (pretties)
No written or even spoken promotions including that of discount.
No alcohol logos on plates, cups, vases, or any other products.
No posters (including historical ones) of alcohol bottles or glasses with logos.
No logos or any other decorative items anywhere in a bars, pubs or any establishment selling alcohol.
Nobody is permitted to wear a T-shirt or apparel with an alcohol logo on it whilst serving in a bar.
No bottles (even old ones) of wines or beer may be used to decorate a premises.
No drinking is permitted in cars or whilst riding motorbikes and bicycles
No drinking after midnight is allowed, even though sales have stopped.
No word of mouth promotions, including bar staff recommending particular brands.
Alcoholics may ask for support
For further details please contact:
The Office of Alcohol Control Committee
Department of Disease Control, Ministry of Public Health
Address: 88/21 Moo 4 Tiwanon Road, Nonthaburi 11000
Tel: 0-25903342, 0-25903035
Fax: 0-25914668, 0-25903015