ALCOHOL REFORM

The new law aimed at controlling alcohol consumption will make people drink more and destroy brewers and related businesses, people in various associated industries said yesterday.

Under the Alcohol Consumption Control bill, advertising, all forms of sales promotion activities, and the sale of alcohol to anyone under 25 would be banned.

Brewers said the law would turn their future in the international market into nothing more than a pipe dream, while advertisers said the law would affect sponsorship of social activities.

Anti-alcohol activists, however, insisted that a total ban on ads was needed for the sake of society.

Boonrawd Trading Co's marketing manager Chatchai Wiratyosin said the total ban on advertising could lead to heavy price-cutting campaigns by new and existing alcohol players which would stimulate greater consumption.

This would then lead to the major players having a monopoly in the market, as only the major players would survive a price war, he said.

"It seems to be good for a big player like us, but in fact it is dangerous. We would face difficulties selling brands internationally due to a lack of domestic marketing support," Chatchai said.

He said many big alcohol companies were now focusing on international markets as domestic sales growth had flattened out as a result of previous measures and laws aimed at controlling consumption.

Chatchai said the company had no problem with the increase in minimum drinking age or the restriction of sales channels.

"We have tried to point out the effects to the Public Health Ministry, which is the lawmaker, many times but our concerns have always been ignored," he said.

However, Boonrawd Trading would send representatives to attend the public hearing on the 20th of this month to repeat its concerns, he said.

Chaipranin Visudhipol, president of the Advertising Association of Thailand and TBWA (Thailand) managing director, said if the objective of the law was to make the nation drink less, a total ban on advertising would not help.

"It can be seen that lao khao [white liquor] is the top-seller without any advertising," he said. "It is also the main kind of alcohol consumed by drivers who have road accidents."

Besides affecting the Bt1-billion advertising budget of alcohol companies each year, the new bill will have a great effect on many useful activities sponsored by alcohol companies, such as sports, Chaipranin said.

Chaipranin said the current measures to restrict alcohol ads were sufficient. Only social advertising is allowed for all kinds of alcoholic drinks now and the ads have to be aired after 10pm, he said.

However, Songkran Takchokedee of the Thai Health Promotion Foundation's Stop Drinking Network insisted advertising caused an increase in new drinkers, especially youths.

Despite social ads, the advertisers used tricks to prompt sales via the ads by using gaps in the law, he said.

"Social advertising is more hazardous because it makes youths have a positive feeling towards drinking and the alcohol companies," he said.

According to research, it is clearly seen that every dollar spent on adverting generates a significant increase in new drinkers, Songkran said.

"Alcohol is more dangerous than tobacco, because while tobacco can only damage health, alcohol damages society and creates accidents and crime. So, it's unreasonable to forbid tobacco ads but allow them for alcohol," he said.

Recently, CP Seven Eleven Co pledged that the clause to ban alcohol promotions in shops that open more than 16 hours a day would severely affect its more than 3,000 branches that are open 24 hours.

Samarn Futrakul, from the Bureau of Non-Communicable Diseases, which oversees the drafting of the law, said enforcement of the bill would need time because it required approval from Parliament.

All sections of the bill could be revised after the hearing, Samarn said.

From : the nation news
By : pla
Date : Sep 11, 2006

 
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