Strict alcohol controls sought

Strict alcohol controls sought

An anti-alcohol advocacy group yesterday submitted proposed amendments to the 2008 Alcoholic Beverages Control Act, which it said would improve controls on the indirect advertising of alcohol.

One of the legal measures put forward for consideration was a ban on alcohol companies using product logos in advertisements and corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns, said Thiraphat Khehawong, a coordinator of NGOs campaigning against alcohol consumption and related problems.

Some 100,000 eligible voters are backing the proposed amendments, he said.

The suggested changes were submitted to House Speaker Chuan Leekpai through his secretary Sombun Uthaiwiankun.

Controlling indirect advertising by companies is a key way to prevent young people from taking up drinking, Mr Thiraphat said.

Since the direct advertising of alcoholic beverages is banned, companies are now inserting product logos into their CSR campaigns, he said, adding this loophole needed to be closed.

Other amendments include lowering the legal punishment for drink drivers and raising penalties against businesses found to be selling or serving alcoholic drinks to such offenders, Mr Thiraphat said.

Tougher punishment for vendors who sell alcohol to underage drinkers was also included in the draft, which seeks more public participation in government committees tasked with controlling alcohol consumption, he said.

The proposed changes come in response to a business group submitting its own proposed amendments to the same alcohol control law, he added.

The group proposed lifting restrictions on the advertising of alcoholic beverages. It also demanded that alcohol be sold around the clock, the ban on selling alcohol near educational institutions be scrapped, and alcohol controls centralised under one national committee, Mr Thiraphat said.

Thira Wacharaprani, manager of the Stop Drink Network, an NGO that campaigns against imbibing, said the 2008 Alcoholic Beverages Control Act needs to be updated to keep pace with the new tactics employed by alcohol companies to exploit legal loopholes to peddle alcohol through indirect campaigns.

The Ministry of Public Health has drafted another amendment to the same alcohol control law on behalf of the government, he added.

Mr Sombun said the activist group's draft would be scrutinised before the House Speaker decides whether to forward it for public hearings before parliament deliberates on it.

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