Soaring numbers of pubs, restaurants and shops are cosying up to universities to sell spirits to students, according to a study by the Centre for Alcohol Studies.
The study conducted last year and released on Wednesday found 2,448 stores and nightspots selling alcoholic beverages within 500 metres of 11 universities in Bangkok, a 72% surge from the 1,448 outlets tallied in 2009.
Dhurakij Pundit University topped the list of booze-soaked school neighbourhoods, followed by Rajamangala University of Technology Krungthep and King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang.
DPU had 187 pubs, shops and restaurants in its vicinity last year, a 125% jump from 83 in 2009, Rajamangala was only a few drops behind at 182 pubs and restaurants in 2014, a 119% rise from 83 six years ago; and 229 shops selling alcohol were found near KMITL last year, a 118% increase from 105 in 2009.
"It is a big jump,'' said Nopphol Witvorapong, director for the centre that is part of the Economics Faculty of Chulalongkorn University.
The results were disclosed amid growing calls for the government to move pubs and restaurants away from academic institutions after an alcohol-fuelled attack on two Rangsit University students in Pathum Thani province on May 30. The students had just left a pub around 4am.
Arthit Saialang, who was a football player for Rangsit University FC, succumbed to shotgun wounds and died in hospital, while his friend, Suwasin Pathummet, suffered knife wounds.
Two suspects have been arrested while another one remains at large.
''It was just a coincidence,'' said Mr Nopphol about the timing for release of the results.
Anti-alcohol activists and academics have pushed for dry zones within 500 metres of universities, but their campaigns lost stream due to a lack of government support. The Alcohol Beverage Control Act BE 2551 only bans sales of beer, wine on campus, in addition to petrol stations.
"Momentum has renewed after the Rangsit University student lost his life,'' the director said.
On June 30, students from 30 universities under the Youth Network against New Drinkers banner also assembled near Government House urging the banishment of alcohol within 500 metres of university walls.
The centre also favoured the same line as the network. It wants to see areas within 500 metres to be alcohol-free.
Mr Nopphol said that could be possible if an organic law under the beverage-control act is issued to create dry zones around campuses.
With renewed calls by the students, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has given the Justice Ministry 30 days to draft measures to end alcohol sales to students close to campuses, national police commander Pol Gen Somyot Pumpunmuang said on Tuesday.
But Gen Prayut said June 5 that better law enforcement was necessary to curb drinking near universities and added that time should be given for pubs and restaurants close to the campuses to adjust their businesses before stern limits were imposed.
Mr Nopphol agreed with the lenient approach as it would allow shops selling alcohol to change to other businesses or move further away during the transition period.
''This will alleviate impacts on their businesses which will come if a zoning is created,'' he said.