Thais prefer booze to milk

Thais drink three litres of alcoholic beverages per head for every litre of milk they consume, according to figures released as part of a campaign to steer people away from alcohol towards healthier alternatives.

Songkran Phakchokdee, director of the Stop Drink Network of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation, was supporting the campaign for people to refrain from consuming alcohol during Buddhist Lent.

He pointed out while Thais consume only about 14.19 litres of milk per head each year, well below the Southeast Asian average of 60 litres, Public Health Ministry data shows they drink about 2.69 billion litres of alcoholic beverages per year, or about 44 litres per head - an alarming figure and the cause of serious health concerns.

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He said the Stop Drink Network is encouraging all sectors to promote role-model individuals, families and communities to reverse the trend and move away from alcohol.

Alcoholic drink has been a major cause of road accidents in Thailand for years. Jadet Chaowilai, adviser of the Network of People Affected by Alcoholic Drinks, said. About 30 people die in road accidents every day on average and the figure rises to 50 to 60 people a day during long-holiday periods like the New Year and the Songkran festival in mid April. 

There were two high-profile cases involving alcohol just this month.

On Sept 3, Vorayuth Yoovidhya, heir of the global energy drink Red Bull empire, was charged with hit-and-run and drink-driving after crashing his 40 million baht Ferrari into a police officer's motorcycle and killing him in Bangkok's Sukhumvit area. The Yoovidhya family paid the dead policeman's family three million baht compensation. The case is pending.

On Sept 11, singer Piya 'Giftza' Pongkulapa, of popular girl band Girly Berry, was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) at a traffic checkpoint on Pattanakarn road.

With the huge number of accidents caused by alcohol, the government issued a Prime Minister's Office announcement banning drinking of alcoholic beverages in vehicles, which has been effective since Aug 8, 2012. The announcement was issued under the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act of 2008. 

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