As beer brewers are enjoying good business selling beer at beer gardens in the capital and tourist towns in the provinces during the New Year festive season, the Alcohol Control Committee has voiced concern over high number of teenagers visiting beer gardens.
The committee’s call for action came after the latest survey showed one out of every three high school students visit and drink beer at beer gardens although the law prohibits the selling of alcoholic beverages to youths under the age of 18 .
According to the Thai Health Promotion Foundation-commissioned survey which was released on Thursday (Dec 28), one out of every three high school students, or 34% of all high school students, had at least visited a beer garden once.
The survey found that 80.2% of those questioned admitted that they wanted and intended to visit beer gardens, to entertain themselves.
But one alarming finding was that 23.4% of students said there are beer gardens near their schools, while others said they found beer gardens near shopping malls, flea markets, and walking streets.
Besides, they said screening or age verification at beer gardens are loose, thus enabling them to enter and enjoy drinking.
Director of the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee Dr Nipon Chinanonwait said that beer gardens can be considered equivalent to marketing events for alcohol beverages, which are banned by the 2008 Alcohol Control Act.
He called for stricter control on the beer gardens, particularly at popular shopping malls, and for punitive measures to be taken, including jail sentences of up to 1 year and fines of up to 500,000 baht.
He accused these beer garden organizers for violating advertising laws.
“Beer gardens themselves are against the law. We have to take action. This is because a beer garden is a form of marketing event.”
He accused the beer garden organizers for violating Section 32 of the 2008 Alcohol Control Act that bans attempts to encourage drinking. If found guilty, violators face a maximum fine of 500,000 baht.
But president of the Thai Alcohol Beverage Business Association Thanakorn Kuptajit viewed that beer gardens do not fall under Section 32 because they sell drinks, but don’t advertise them.
As long as beer garden operators have licenses, their business are lawful, he said.