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  1. #1
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    Sober decision on advert ban

    Sober decision on advert ban


    The Food and Drug Administration is finally backing off its error in banning all advertisements of alcoholic beverages. The FDA is properly accepting the verdict of the Council of State that the agency had no business meddling in this issue. To its credit, the FDA now says it will clear up the confusing paperwork and bow out of the controversy within a week or so. That puts matters back roughly where they were a few months ago. While it is not accepting the defeat gracefully, at least the FDA accepts it acted wrongly.

    There is no shortage these days of government and non-government groups eager to tell us what to do. Lamentably, many are willing to use force to implement their views. Those behind the campaign to ban liquor advertising obviously had ulterior motives. Their objective was not to stop advertisements by makers of beer, wine and liquor, but rather to set in motion a programme to ban sales of alcoholic drinks. Such a ban is no more necessary or admirable than the proposed, illegal ban on advertising which the prohibitionists almost attained.

    The anti-alcohol campaign has been brewing, one might say, for some time. Activists congregated last year, when Thailand's biggest maker of alcoholic beverages decided to list shares on the Stock Exchange of Thailand. Activist leaders enlisted monks, pious people and those few politicians they could find.

    They made a noisy campaign that included protests and demonstrations. Eventually, Thai Beverage gave up the fight as hopeless and possibly divisive for the country. It listed on the stock exchange in Singapore, where it became the most-traded share. It was hardly a victory for either the dries or for their country.

    The Sept 19 coup brought a new government, and Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla quickly established his new priorities. Measures to control drinking would be enforced, he announced. In his speeches and interviews, he maintained his purpose was to reduce the number of deaths and health problems traceable to drinking alcohol. He emphasised the health dangers of driving after drinking, and expanded a project within the Public Health Ministry to monitor and report on holiday drink-driving statistics.

    Dr Mongkol was an early and enthusiastic supporter of the anti-advertising legislation. He took it to the cabinet, where wiser and cooler ministers asked for a ruling. Simply put, they wondered if the Public Health Ministry or its FDA had a role in regulating advertising in all facets.

    At one point, Dr Mongkol said that not only did he have such power, but he would insist on using it no matter what government colleagues decided. He insisted on raising the age of legal drinking to 25, and it is debatable which decision was more poorly considered.

    The Council of State has ruled that Dr Mongkol and his ministry must keep their hands off advertising. The minister has meanwhile wisely backed off his inappropriate campaign to raise the drinking age. Cooler heads have prevailed. It is only disconcerting that the bitter last words of the FDA secretary-general Siriwat Tiptaradol were about the influence of big distilleries and breweries.

    The problems of alcohol abuse, by children and by adults, are well known. No evidence exists that more government enforcement, in the form of a ban on advertising, would alleviate them.

    Making, selling, marketing and consuming alcohol are legal activities in Thailand, by tradition and practice. Many laws deal with the subject, and give increasing attention both to the alcohol abuse, and to crimes and offences committed as a result. Advertising of alcohol is already under strict controls, including bans on broadcast media during times when children might be watching and listening.

    Cigarette advertising always has been illegal in Thailand. Other than that, advertising of legal products is a question of market economics, not to mention freedom of expression and of the press.
    Pressure groups, even government ministers, have no standing to rush and bully the majority into bans, prohibitions and other enforcement without careful study. Using martial law to push their agendas is even worse. At this time, the government has far more pressing issues to deal with.

    Bangkok Post

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    Well, let's hope the next thing they do is remove the ridiculous restrictions on the times alcohol can be sold.

  3. #3
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    Alcohol plays a big part the problems in many areas of Thai society. Better they tax heavily the advertisments and use that cash to compensate the victims of crime or negligence by those who abuse alcohol.
    The breweries should also be made to produce and pay for TV adverts advocating road safety.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wallace
    Well, let's hope the next thing they do is remove the ridiculous restrictions on the times alcohol can be sold.
    Yes such an unefficient measure is laughable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Helicopter View Post
    Alcohol plays a big part the problems in many areas of Thai society. Better they tax heavily the advertisments and use that cash to compensate the victims of crime or negligence by those who abuse alcohol.
    The breweries should also be made to produce and pay for TV adverts advocating road safety.
    The cause of alcohol-related problems in Thai is not beer (or wine, for that matter), but the cheap and readily available locally manufactured spirits. A bottle of moonshine costs less than a can of beer.

    Just pay attention next time you go to a restaurant, karaoke or Thai bar - what do the majority of Thais drink? Whiskey or brandy in the "classier" establishments, mekhong or similar poisons in the working-class joints. Lao kao for those who cannot even afford to go out. Beer - occasionally.

    Although it would be typical Thai logic to penalize the beer breweries for problems caused by cheap spirits.
    Last edited by Whiteshiva; 29-01-2007 at 01:33 PM.
    Any error in tact, fact or spelling is purely due to transmissional errors...

  6. #6
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    Cabinet approves alcohol consumption control bill

    Cabinet approves alcohol consumption control bill


    The Cabinet Tuesday approved a bill to control alcohol consumption and prohibit advertisement of alcoholic drinks.

    Public Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla said the bill would provide comprehensive control of alcohol consumption.

    Among other things, it would prohibit the sale of alcoholic drinks to people under 20 years old.

    It would also set zoning for alcoholic drinks sale and consumption, he said, adding that the sale would be prohibited near temples and schools.

    The bill would be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation soon.

    The Nation

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    Quote Originally Posted by Whiteshiva
    Just pay attention next time you go to a restaurant, karaoke or Thai bar - what do the majority of Thais drink? Whiskey or brandy in the "classier" establishments, mekhong or similar poisons in the working-class joints. Lao kao for those who cannot even afford to go out. Beer - occasionally.
    Going from the shop, around here the order of popularity would be Beer, Lao Khow, Lao deng (Hong Thong, Sang Som ect never see anyone drinking Mek Hong outside of the tourist areas)

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    Looks to me that the ONLY marketing advantage will be price.

    E. G.

  9. #9
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    Cabinet backs bill on alcohol control

    Cabinet backs bill on alcohol control


    The Cabinet yesterday approved a bill to control alcohol consumption and ban advertisements for alcoholic drinks.




    Public Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla said the bill would provide comprehensive control of alcohol consumption and prohibit the sale of alcoholic drinks to people under 20 years old.

    It would also set zones for alcoholic drink sales and consumption, he said, adding that sales would be banned near temples and schools.

    Advertising would only be allowed in "private and closed" places. Beer gardens would be allowed if no logos or brands were on show.

    The only exception is for ads on sports programmes broadcast live from foreign countries.

    The bill will be submitted to the National Legislative Assembly for deliberation soon.

    The Food and Drug Administra-tion (FDA) failed last year to enforce the proposal banning most alcohol ads.

    However, the FDA and the Health Ministry's move has been aggressively opposed by alcohol manufacturers, who have sought every means to stop the ban.

    The Council of State finally ruled that the FDA had no mandate to comprehensively ban alcohol ads.

    As a result, the Public Health Ministry has instead introduced the Alcohol Control Act to continue pushing for a ban, which the ministry and many anti-alcohol groups strongly support.

    Somchai Suthikulpanich, senior vice president of Thai Beverage Marketing - the producer of Chang beer - said the move would hit the alcohol industry like a tsunami.

    "As a measure, the ban on alcohol advertising is far too aggressive. It would effect the advertising industry more than the alcohol industry," he said.

    Annual alcohol advertising was worth about Bt2.6 billion, and if the ban took place, that sum would be used in other kinds of marketing activities, he said.

    Chatchai Viratyosin, marketing manager at Singha Corp, the brewer of Singha beer, said he had predicted the bill would be approved but was worried that the ad ban would drive producers into a price war. "It is the only way to market the products due to the limitations," he said.

    Another concern was that cheap alcoholic products from China would flow into the country, he claimed.

    Chatchai said the government should solve the problem at its origin, by adjusting alcohol tax rate according to the percentage of alcohol.

    Instead of reducing alcohol consumption, the ban would give an advantage to lao khao (white whisky), which had the highest sales in the country - without any advertising at all.

    "It is unacceptable that we have to pay the price in order to benefit only one player," he said. Meanwhile, a source said Cabinet's review of the bill took a long time yesterday, as several members voiced concern that the ad ban and limits on alcohol sales might go against principles of free trade, while limiting the age of buyers might deprive people of their rights.

    However, Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla showed strong support for the bill, saying several studies had found that advertising alcohol could increase "new face" drinkers.
    Some members were also concerned that the content of the bill authorises the minister to issue orders to add more bans.

    The Nation

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    ... the bill would provide comprehensive control of alcohol consumption and prohibit the sale of alcoholic drinks to people under 20 years old...
    Oh good. That's OK then.


    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    ... several studies had found that advertising alcohol could increase "new face" drinkers...
    Er.. pardon? I wish the translator would learn English.

  11. #11
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    NLA backs bill to ban alcohol adverts and raise age of buyers

    NLA backs bill to ban alcohol adverts and raise age of buyers


    The Alcohol Control Bill was approved in principle yesterday by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA).



    When it becomes law it will impose a total ban on alcohol ads and raise the minimum age for buyers to 20 years from the current 18.

    There was heated debate in the NLA ahead of the vote that saw the legislation passed in principle by 98 votes to 34 with five abstentions. The NLA set up a 31-member ad-hoc panel to scrutinise the bill ahead of the second reading in 15 days.

    The Public Health Ministry proposed the bill amid strong opposition from alcohol manufacturers and distributors. But some assembly members are against the bill because it fails to tackle root problems relating to drinking.

    "The ban on advertising won't help solve or reduce social problems arising from alcohol consumption. What really matters is how people are inculcated," Somkiat Onwimon said at the sitting.

    He said it was better if authorities cracked down on cheap strong liquor because such drinks led to social problems. The bill looks set to affect only expensive drinks that rely on advertising.

    Ammar Siamwalla supported the bill in principle. However, he believed the Public Health Ministry failed to consider other control measures such as sin taxes.

    "I am concerned that some brewers and distillers will be able to slash prices when they no longer have to pay for advertising," he said.

    Kamnoon Sittisamarn agreed with the bill in principle but pointed out it contained loopholes.
    Health Minister Mongkol na Songkhla said the legislation was needed because alcohol consumption caused health and family problems, accidents and crime. He agreed to consider tax moves also.


    Prapasri Osathanon
    The Nation

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    I am concerned that some brewers and distillers will be able to slash prices when they no longer have to pay for advertising
    Happiness is just around the bend

  13. #13
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    The CoS should decree that as from now nobody breaks the law, the Highway Code is to be strictly applied, everybody pays taxes, and we all live happily ever after with their giant invisible white rabbit called Harvey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog View Post
    Cabinet approves alcohol consumption control bill



    It would also set zoning for alcoholic drinks sale and consumption, he said, adding that the sale would be prohibited near temples and schools.


    The Nation

    Is this the death knell then for the "nightlife" in Hua Hin much of which is in spitting distance of the temple the grounds of which are sometimes used by the punters to park their cars whilst imbibing.

    I also witnessed the construction last week of a new bar off Poonsuk next to the Johny Walker Bar whcih is just the other side of the temple.school wal. The new bar is two stories and from the top story it would be possible to sit and down a G&T whilst groping a young lady (if indeed it is such a bar) and peer into the school/temple all simultaneously.

    My bet is that the bar wil be there this time next year.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by dirtydog
    When it becomes law it will impose a total ban on alcohol ads and raise the minimum age for buyers to 20 years from the current 18.
    Do you think that will stop the cops across the road sending the little kids over to buy their Lao Khow ?

  16. #16
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    They can raise the age to 120 for all the difference it makes. Until they understand that laws actually need enforcing, they'll still be on the Planet of the Apes.

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    Alcohol ban gets industry nod

    Alcohol ban gets industry nod


    The alcohol industry and advertising firms have been persuaded to support the Alcohol Control Bill, a spokesman for the national committee reviewing the bill said yesterday.



    Brewers and distillers, advertising agencies, hotel associations, restaurants and the tourism industry, plus other businesses connected to alcohol sales had recently appeared before the committee during its second consideration of the bill.

    Committee spokesman Tuang Antachai said most of them, such as Thai Beverage, which makes Beer Chang, Siam Winery and Regency supported the bill and were willing to follow the regulations contained in it.

    "The representative of Thai Beverage said the law might affect its business, but the company would accept it if the law was equally enforced for all players," he said.

    Tuang said Boonrawd Brewery, which makes Singha beer, was concerned that the alcohol-advertising ban might encourage some brewers and distillers to promote sales by cutting prices, which would lure more people into drinking.

    "So Boonrawd Brewery suggested a tax increase measure being added to the law," Tuang said. He said representatives of the advertising industry had pointed out that annual advertising budgets for alcohol totalled about Bt2.6 billion and that was only 2 per cent of the whole advertising market, so the ban's effects would be negligible.

    The association also supported a tax increase for all kinds of alcoholic products to thwart a price war.

    Tuang said committee members were not concerned about a price war after Dr Prakit Vathisathokit, the secretary-general of Action on Smoking and Health Foundation, had detailed the effects of the advertising ban on tobacco since 1989.
    Prakit, a member of the committee, said the tobacco ad ban had not caused any price war among the tobacco companies.

    The Nation

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    Interestingly, I've noticed that True now allow adverts on TV for alcohol after 10pm. Watching Premier League football this weekend, which has Tiger Beer as one of the sponsors, they laughingly thrown the 'bring on the red intermission' switch when Tiger ads appear before 10pm, but then either the bloke has fallen asleep, or they have decided to forget about this after 10. Anyone else know different or is this a relaxation of the previous total ban?
    The truth is out there, but then I'm stuck in here.

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    Promoters protest

    Promoters protest

    A group of girls who sell alcoholic drinks protest against the Alcohol Control Act in front of Parliament yesterday, urging the National Legislative Assembly to review the legislation.

    The Nation

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    Hospitality reps meet with panel

    ALCOHOL ACT AMENDMENTS
    Hospitality reps meet with panel



    Damage to tourism and existing investments cited as concerns


    Booze-purveyors and related businesses, including hotels and restaurants, yesterday raised their concerns and made suggestions at their first meeting with the National Legislative Assembly committee vetting the alcohol-control bill.

    Chanin Donavanik, president of the Thai Hotels Association (THA), said the alcohol-control law, which prohibits the sale of alcohol products within 200 metres of schools, would clobber the tourism industry, especially hotels, restaurants and bars.

    "We want a clear framework for this law. It should not give too much power to the committee or the minister," he said.

    Almost 4,000 hotels have huge investments at stake, so they do not want to see uncertainty in regulations or one group given unbridled power to control the industry, he said.

    Sampan Panpat, honorary adviser to the association, said the liquor ban around schools had soured the mood in the tourism industry. "Foreign tourists don't understand why such a ban was imposed, and this will hurt the industry," he said.

    However, he said he was relieved to learn from the alcohol-bill committee that it would not draft any laws that would have an impact on the tourism industry and related businesses.

    Tourism and service industries are important and generate major earnings for the country. Last year, 13.82 million tourists visited Thailand, an increase of 20 per cent on 2005, while 79.33 million Thais took local tours. Tourism revenues increased 23.1 per cent to Bt8.6 billion.

    This year the Tourism Authority of Thailand has targeted 14.8 million tourist arrivals, 81.99 million local outings and Bt9.25 billion in tourism revenues.

    Pavornwan Koonmongkol, president of the Thai Restaurant Association, said the ban on liquor advertising would extend to advertising materials in restaurants such as the bottle coasters bearing logos of the maker. Liquor companies have long provided such materials to restaurants free of charge to promote their products.

    The materials could no longer be used, which means the restaurants would have to dish out their own money to buy coasters and other materials. The total damage to them is estimated at Bt5 billion.

    Pavornwan urged the government to allow people in the business to take part in the bill's development.

    Vorathep Rangchaikul, president of Diageo Moet Hennessy (Thailand), the importer and distributor of alcoholic drinks such as Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky, welcomed the rare opportunity to touch bases directly with law- and policy-makers.

    "We are quite impressed by having the chance to meet and share our concerns and experiences with the authorities for the first time. As business operators, we want to provide them with practices after doing almost 30 years in the alcohol business in Thailand. We also have information from almost 180 countries around the world relating to alcohol control and regulation," said.

    Vorathep said that from his company's perspective the alcohol legal framework needed to cover three major goals: stopping drinking by youths, protecting against accidents and dangers from irresponsible drinking and encouraging cooperation among all players involved in production, distribution and services.

    He said the proposed alcohol control law focused on controlling the marketing and advertising of alcoholic beverages without concern for existing problems in the industry, particularly the domination of local white liquors and blended spirits. These local brews have almost 70 per cent of the overall alcohol market. They enjoy dramatic growth every year without needing any advertising, just cheaper prices.

    "The new proposed alcohol-control regulation, which focuses on a total ban of alcohol advertising, will encourage a price war in the market. Many quality products will be replaced with cheap ones. All related industries, such as hotels and restaurants, will suffer from the decline in travellers to the country," he said.

    All the sports and music businesses here would be traumatised, as they would lose the support and sponsorship of alcohol companies, he said. Most international games and concerts would disappear from Thailand. All small and medium-sized makers of signs and advertising materials would be hit severely by the new act.

    "What we have suggested to the NLA committee today is to utilise the existing regulations on alcohol advertising. A joint committee, with members from the public sector, business and advertising, will be formed to directly review and screen all advertisements submitted by alcohol firms," he said.

    The existing ordinance forbidding alcohol sales at all retail outlets during the daytime from 2pm to 5pm and at night from 1am to 5am was impractical and limited the individual right of travellers and shift workers to purchase alcohol products, he said.

    "We would like to suggest the authorities lift the afternoon ban all around the country since it will not reduce alcohol consumption by students, as intended by the government. The ban during the period has also limited the right of foreign tourists to buy liquor at hotels.

    For such tourist destinations such as Phuket and Samui, the ban on the night-time period should be more relaxed by changing it to between 2am and 5am from the existing 1am to 5am," said Vorathep.

    He added that the authorities should not prevent alcohol firms from conducting promotional activities such as temporary price reductions and giving premiums and said the strict controls proposed would force them into permanent price-promotion activities.

    The Advertising Association of Thailand is rebuffing claims that the industry now supports the proposed Alcohol Beverage Control Bill. The claims were made in a statement from a spokesman for the NLA committee which is currently reviewing the draft legislation.

    Association president Witawat Jayapani stressed on Tuesday that the bill would be effective only when a specific tax, levied on a litre-of-pure-alcohol basis, was applied. At present the tax measure is ambiguous, and the proposed advertising restrictions could actually increase the number of alcohol-drinkers.

    The advertising industry in Thailand is still opposed to the draft bill as it denies producers and distributors an opportunity to build brand awareness and reputation. Due to the brand awareness, alcohol companies can set higher prices on specific products, and this limits consumers to higher income groups, thus excluding younger groups, he said.

    Witawat believes that restrictions on alcohol advertising in Thailand without applying tax-control measures would open the door to cheap, less reputable foreign brands seeking to gain a market share through lower pricing, such as beer made in China.
    "This would undermine our common goal of protecting young people through education and programmes that emphasise the importance of social responsibility in our society," he said.


    Kwanchai Rungfapaisarn
    The Nation

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    Witawat believes that restrictions on alcohol advertising in Thailand without applying tax-control measures would open the door to cheap, less reputable foreign brands seeking to gain a market share through lower pricing, such as beer made in China.
    "This would undermine our common goal of protecting our market share," he said.
    ummm - yes i can see that

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    Companies 'clever at giving alcohol a good image'

    Companies 'clever at giving alcohol a good image'


    Alcohol companies are very clever at creating a good image of drinking by sponsoring sports and musical events, a mass communications lecturer said yesterday.



    "Such sponsorship can associate drinking with physical strength and creativity," said Nistha Rhoonkasem, a lecturer at Rajabhat Kanchanaburi University.

    She was speaking at a seminar on alcohol and its impact on Thai society, which was held by a National Legislative Assembly (NLA) subcommittee on public participation. Nistha pointed out that alcohol companies clearly exploited legal loopholes to benefit their business.

    "While they have placed fewer advertisements in the traditional media, they have increasingly used more subtle advertising and other marketing gimmicks. By being sponsors for sports and musical events, they can reach out to current and new drinkers," she said.

    According to Nistha, five alcohol companies inked an agreement to stop advertising their products from December 3 to January 15 this year.

    "Even with the agreement, they continued to place advertisements, although with reduced frequency," she said, adding that a study showed that these companies hardly reduced the number of "subtle advertisements" during that period.

    As a result, Nistha said the Alcohol Control Bill would be of considerable help because it would comprehensively ban alcohol advertising - direct or subtle.

    The NLA has assigned a committee to vet the bill.

    At the same seminar, anti-drinking activist Songkran Parkchokdee complained that some NLA members were delaying the bill's deliberation because they had ties with alcohol companies.

    "They want to protect those companies' interests. If the deliberation of the bill is not completed during the incumbent administration, the companies stand a chance to negotiate with those who form the next government," Songkran said.

    The incumbent administration, installed by coup makers, has planned to remain in power for just one year.

    Chulalongkorn University's Social Research Institute deputy director Nualnoi Trirat also said alcohol companies had close ties with some government officials and political office holders.

    "That's why the effort to enact alcohol-control laws or measures have faced immense pressure," she said, adding she supported tax measures and other means to restrict the alcohol-sale period to curb consumption.

    In a related development, an NLA ad-hoc committee to vet the Alcohol Control Bill has already held three meetings to deliberate the draft law.

    "We have looked into every section," committee spokesman Tuang Antachai said.

    He said his committee had also established a working panel to study how the bill could cover tax measures.
    Respected academic Ammar Siamwalla was appointed chairman.


    Duangkamon Sajirawattanakul
    The Nation

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