Consideration is being given to revamp the current Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, B.E. 2551, with more stringent measures and big increases in non-compliance penalties.
Among penalties now enshrined in law, the Act has provisions for fines of up to 50,000 THB for posting a photo of an alcohol drink online, or 500,000 THB for the owners of an alcohol-related business.
The newly drafted Act increases these penalties to 500,000 THB for individuals and 1 million THB for business owners.
An online site allows for opinions about the proposed changes to be forwarded until 9th July (http://alcoholact.ddc.moph.go.th/act/).
Other measures being proposed include:
- If business owners refuse to comply, they could be fined 50,000 THB per day.
- The authorities may raid bars, restaurants, or alcohol-related businesses without court orders.
- The authorities can introduce new orders without having to do so through referendums or public hearings.
- Any indirect advertisements about alcohol—including those that are not about alcohol but could be interpreted as advertising about alcohol—would also be outlawed. This means bye-bye to alcohol brand logos on soda or water bottles.
It’s also worth noting that the authorities who fine businesses or individuals may keep a percentage (60-80% of the fine); as an incentive to encourage enforcement of the law.
Restaurant and bar owners have been severely affected by government restrictions throughout the pandemic, including orders to shut without compensation. The current Alcohol Control Act also makes it illegal to sell or advertise alcohol online. This strict new proposal would make an already difficult situation even tougher.
However, food and beverage representatives have responded with other proposals directly opposing theses changes. They are asking for changes such as:
- Revoke the unreasonable alcohol sales regulations such as the limited selling hours, alcohol bans on Buddhist holidays, bans on online sales, and bans on alcohol promotions.
- Allow alcohol advertising based on facts of the products.
- Adjust fines to be more reasonable and do away with incentives for authorities who fine businesses or individuals.
Food and beverage representatives arealso currently suing the government for damages to the industry following its Covid-related restrictions.