Thailand: No More Alcohol Sales to Those Under 25 - Travelers Get a Heads Up on Glasses Down

Nola Kelsey

Visitors: 141

The party may be all but over for young adult’s visiting Thailand. Ironically, as the center of the kingdom floods, the nation as a whole is drying up. How will travelers respond?

”Health authorities have stepped up measures to curb alcohol consumption among youth by moving up the minimum legal age of buyers from 18 to 25 years. Narong Sahamethapat, deputy chief of the Disease Control Department, said yesterday that the idea was proposed by a network of parents early this year during a public hearing of a draft bill to control alcoholic drinks.

The measure to raise the legal minimum age of buyers is part of a national campaign to save Thai youth from alcohol abuse, he said, adding that it has already been incorporated into Article 28 of the draft…

…Also, the authorities plan to declare an alcohol-free day when alcohol sales and promotional activities are prohibited. ”

-Bangkok Post 2006-10-14

While no one doubts the good intentions of Thailand’s Health Authorities. This legislation has already sparked debates on forum sights such as, ThaiVisa. Many are concerned over the affect this legislation of individual morality will have on the nation’s tourism industry. Among the feedback were the following comments.

“Thats Thailand out as a holiday destination to all farangs (and other non thais) under 25. . many of them have a good disposable income too. . shocking”

”As the age old observation goes " This Is Thailand " and in this case i think it is very relevant to Thai culture and the deterioration of the slippery slope that drinking is taking it’s young down. ”

”Well done to you all in my humble opinion and hopefuly it will have the positive results it deserves. ”

“Unfortunately I believe it will just be another opportunoity for the lower level enforcers to make more money in on the spot fines and for the well connected (i. e. “service charge" paying) locations to continue to sell to whoever they see fit. ”

“The problem is that the younger tourist from overseas go on holiday and like to have a party, and it's these younger adults that will return to Thailand year after year, eventually with their family, spending all their hard earned money. ”

”The thought of a 24 year old adult from USA/Europe/Aus etc. . not being able to buy alcohol is ridiculous. . . and ridiculous enough for these adults to find somewhere else to go. ”

“The youth don't need “saving", they need only educating. Instill a few ethics; principles; and teach them how to think for themselves, for a change. Raising the age of buying alcohol to 25yr is utterly ridiculous. Stupid, typical “top-down" authoritarian approach to everything. ”

This is not the first crackdown on the alcohol industry from Thailand’s, coup-born, fledgling government. More likely it is a sign of things to come. Earlier this week legislation was announced placing extensive limitations on the advertisement of alcohol and related products.

“The new law would impose strict restrictions on selling hours for alcohol and ban advertising in all media, including the Internet…

…On Wednesday, the Public Health Ministry announced a blanket ban on ads and public promotions of alcoholic beverages. Beverage producers, entertainment operators and media companies have strongly criticised the policy. On Wednesday, the Public Health Ministry announced a blanket ban on ads and public promotions of alcoholic beverages…

…Beverage producers, entertainment operators and media companies have strongly criticised the policy…

Ironically, alcohol consumption has steadily increased since the government banned TV commercials for booze from 5 am to 10 pm in October 2003.

-Bangkok Post 2006-10-14

Media has been caught off guard by the quick influx of new legislation. The plan to ban alcohol advertisements will make a big dent in advertising revenue, cutting profits by an estimated 2 billion baht ($50 million) annually, according to Witawat Jayapani, president of the Advertising Association of Thailand. No doubt, owners of clubs skewed to younger adult patrons will also feel the result of this one two punch.

Whatever the long-term results of Thailand’s increasing crackdown on alcohol consumption, it will not be good for tourism. These laws coincide with a tightening of the countries visa regulations, which made it a haven for long-term backpacker travelers - many of which are under 25.

While there is still plenty to see and do in the Land of Smiles, Many foreign travelers may not be grinning quite as wide.

Nola L. Kelsey is currently wandering SE Asia for two years. Her backpack and laptop keep her partially grounded. Kelsey’s the author of the satire Bitch Unleashed: The Harsh Realities of Goin’ Country and coauthor of the wicked political spoof Keeping the Masses Down. To read more of Kelsey’s work, visit her rarely up-to-date website at:


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