Bid for more drinking hours fails
Panel concerned that more accidents would burden medics
The Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee on Friday dismissed a private sector proposal to extend the period of selling alcoholic beverages at night venues until 4am.
The committee's prime concern with the proposal was a potential increase in road accidents due to increased alcohol consumption, said Dr Tares Krassanairawiwong, chief of the Department of Disease Control, who is also the committee's secretary.
He said the panel, in their decision, was concerned that more accidents would greatly burden medical staff.
Along with the private sector, the Tourism and Sports Ministry proposed to the government in September to consider allowing night entertainment venues at major tourist destinations such as Koh Samui of Surat Thani, Phuket, and Khao San Road in Bangkok to stay open later than 2am or until 4am to boost tourism.
However, Dr Tares said the committee considered all aspects involved -- health, society, and the economy -- and found that it was improper to extend the period of alcohol sales.
"Its impact is immense if the period is prolonged. We don't want to see increasing numbers of accidents," he said.
The committee's study found that an extended period of alcohol selling would increase road accidents by 27%, and the number of road fatalities would be up to 10-20 cases per day.
If there were aggressive law enforcement activities, such as police checkpoints at night, it would help prevent drunken drivers by 30-50%, but it might not reduce fatalities, he said.
Currently, the law allows alcohol sales during two periods; 11am-2pm and 5pm to midnight for vendors and until 2am for night entertainment venues. The private sector says such hours are insufficient for the tourism industry.
Dr Tares said that the final decision would be made by the National Alcoholic Beverage Policy Committee headed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. The meeting is scheduled for Dec 22.
The panel also approved a plan to require provinces to provide the details of their alcohol control efforts every six months.