Men are drinking less, but women and young people drinking more, says the House committee on social issues.
Arunee Chamnanya, chairwoman of the House committee on children, youth, women, the elderly, the disabled and underprivileged affairs, told a recent seminar on alcohol use that consumption is rising among youth and women.
A study conducted by the Centre of Alcohol Studies during 2001-2011 found the rate of women drinking increased by an average of 1.1% each year, while the drinking rate among 15-24 year-olds increased 1% each year.
However, the rate among men and the elderly reduced slightly.
The study also found Phayao, Sukhothai and Loei provinces have the highest rates of underage drinking.
Ms Arunee, Pheu Thai MP for Phayao, said some local people have the wrong perception about drinking. The study also found that most cases of sex abuse and adultery were conducted by people who were drunk, she said. Community leaders should take action to reduce alcohol consumption in communities.
Ms Arunee also called on the Excise Department to mount a campaign reminding distillers and retailers to comply with the law in not selling alcohol to under-20s. Illegal and untaxed local white spirit producers are a major contributor to the youth drinking trend, she said.
According to a survey conducted by Chiang Mai University's Research Institute for Health Sciences on Sept 10-21 in 51 villages in Phayao, 30 of 32 local distillery operators produced and sold their products illegally.
Locals can buy untaxed liquor in their communities at cheap prices, researcher Kanittha Thaikla said.
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- Writer: Paritta Wangkiat