Proposed sweeping alcohol-sales ban worries Phuket officials

PHUKET: Island officials have expressed concern about an alcohol sales ban expected to take effect next week that will affect all businesses within a 300-meter radius of academic institutions.

Despite their concerns, local authorities have noted that they will have to obey and enforce the new regulation, although some believe it will have a negative effect on businesses.

“The draft has already been passed by Cabinet, so I believe the Prime Minister will sign off on it soon. I am worried about the definition of ‘academic institutions’. I hope it will be clarified exactly which types of schools fall under that definition,” said Phuket Excise Office (PEO) Chief Pairuch Kulima.

“My initial understanding is that the law will name only universities and technical colleges as ‘academic institutions’. This is better, as many big businesses, such as Central Festival Phuket, would be affected by this if it applies to all schools.”

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Mr Pairuch noted that it will be very difficult to quickly bring all affected businesses into compliance.

“Before this new law, the Department of Excise issued alcohol sales permits for all shops except for the ones located directly adjacent to academic institutions and temples. If the government signs off on this law, we will have to revoke all permits within the 300m mark,” he explained.

“After the new law is put into effect, we only have 30 days to revoke the permits. We will have to visit all bars, mini marts, grocery stores and other businesses that sell alcohol in the prohibited areas. We are not sure how we will be able to tackle this efficiently.”

Dr Prapa Nakara, director of the Non-communicable Diseases Division of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO) told the Phuket Gazette that it is her officers’ duty to enforce the law.

“Although the draft law is yet to take effect, the PPHO has already prepared for it,” Dr Prapa said.

Earlier this week, the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association released a statement noting that the law covers sales of alcoholic beverages, but not consumption, thus failing to tackle the root of the underage drinking problem.

Calling the law a ‘blanket measure’ that will hurt businesses that are in full compliance with current laws and are not selling beverage alcohol to underage customers, the statement mentioned the effects the new law would have on Thailand’s economy.

“The declaration is a severe blow to the service sector and Thailand’s employment situation with damages estimated at 115 billion baht, along with the possible loss of 125,000 jobs,” read the statement.

“Sales of beverage alcohol are not limited to just entertainment and service venues. Instead, they also take place via retailers, wholesalers, shopping malls, restaurants and food outlets, hotels and tourist attractions – all of which represent key components in Thailand’s economy and society.”

Mr Pairuch and Dr Prapa both said that it was the right of TBBA to complain about the law. However, they declined to elaborate, stating that it is up to the government leaders to respond to such complaints.

“We must follow the orders of the government,” Mr Pairuch confirmed.

— Kongleaphy Keam

Phuket News
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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