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Old 23-11-2010, 03:54 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Govt plans new tax to cut alcohol consumption
November 23, 2010

Women imbibers up by 65%, teens by 70%, health report finds

The government has planned to increase liquor tax in a bid to better control alcoholic consumption in the country.

The latest liquor tax hike took place last year. "We have made it clear from the very beginning that we won't raise the tax just once," Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday said at a seminar.

Held by the Centre for Alcohol Studies, the seminar discussed "Alcohol Problems in the Globalised World".

Public Health Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said the number of regular drinkers had increased by 20 per cent over the past decade.

"The number of female drinkers, in particular, has increased by 65 per cent," he disclosed. "The number of teenage drinkers has also risen by up to 70 per cent."

According to the Excise Department, up to 51.1 million Thais consumed alcohol in 2007 and 14.9 millions of them were regular drinkers.

A survey by Prince of Songkla University also showed drinking teenagers faced a greater risk of being forced into sex than non-drinkers did.

"This leads to problems such as unwanted pregnancies and abortions," Jurin said. "It's necessary that relevant authorities find measures to deter drinking and reduce the number of new drinkers."

The Cabinet has already approved four strategies for alcohol consumption.

The first is tax measures, restrictions on sale times and the number of distribution outlets.

The second is about efforts to change public attitude on drinking.

The third focuses on how to prevent drinking that leads to unsafe behaviour, illness and death.

The fourth deals with tangible measures at community levels.

Abhisit said the civil sector, too, could help with the controls on alcohol.

"The monitoring of activities by the civil sector would allow better law enforcement," he pointed out.

Abhisit said the government would also try to find out how best to control ads promoting alcoholic beverages.

Although these ads have increasingly faced many restrictions, ad campaigns by alcohol companies have continued to appeal to the public.

With ad messages focusing on public services, they have made many people feel drinkers are good members of society.

"This is a problem," the premier maintained.
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