The Thai government has rejected a proposal to lift a ban on the sale of alcohol during daytime hours, citing risks to public health and safety.

A government committee has rejected a proposal to lift a long-standing ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages between 2 pm and 5 pm, citing risks to public health and safety. However, the Bangkok Post reported that the National Committee will approve the final decision next week.

The Thai Alcoholic Beverage Association asked for the change, saying lifting the ban was in line with the government’s plan to boost tourism.

The Cabinet has referred the association’s proposal to the Health Ministry’s alcoholic beverage control committee for discussion, said Disease Control Department head Dr Thongchai Kiratihattayakorn, who is secretary of the committee.

The panellists, including representatives from the ministries of health, tourism, home affairs, finance, social development and human security, and other experts, are unanimous that the ban on the sale of alcohol in the afternoon should remain in place.

The committee’s resolution has been sent to the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Committee, which will make a final decision at a meeting on Monday,” Dr Thongchai revealed.

“If the committee had agreed to increase the selling hours, relevant laws would have to be amended,” the doctor revealed. “However, the ministry reaffirmed the position taken to protect people’s health.”

The ban on the sale of alcohol in the afternoon is not in the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act but is contained in an amendment passed in 1972 by the coup organisers, explained Health Minister Cholnan Srikajev.
The ban on the daytime sale of alcohol in Thailand remains in place

The sale of alcohol is allowed in Thailand from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm to 00:00 am

Dr Thongchai said the committee had seriously discussed the pros and cons of increasing the permitted sale times for liquor, wine and beer. However, participants expressed concern about a possible increase in alcohol-related accidents.

The doctor pointed out that there were 3,000 road accidents during the past New Year holidays, and 25 per cent were caused by alcohol.

Preliminary data also indicates an increase in social consequences and alcohol-related criminal activities after authorities agreed to extend alcohol serving hours in selected places to boost tourism, Dr Thongchai said.

The pilot project, approved by the National Alcohol Policy Committee, allows bars and restaurants to operate until 4 am in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Bangkok and Samui Island. The regulation came into effect on 15 December. The committee said that if the first phase was successful, other locations would be added to the list.

“We have seen an increasing trend in the number of accidents and other social consequences of this policy,” Dr Thongchai said. “But we haven’t yet seen the results of the economic impact. It will take another four months to see the picture.”

An anti-alcohol civil society network gathered at the ministry to take a stand against the hobby of alcohol selling times. Representatives said the social and health consequences would be serious, especially losses from road accidents caused by drunk drivers.

Activists plan to closely follow the final decision made by the national committee, said Terapat Kahawong, coordinator of the Alcoholic Beverage Prevention and Mitigation Network.

“We are meeting again at Government House next week because we are afraid that alcoholic beverage companies will try to lobby for their business. If that is the case, we will go to court for justice,” Terapat said.

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