BANGKOK – The Alcoholic Beverage Control Committee will on Monday consider whether to issue a ban on the sale of alcohol during the Songkran holiday period, Songkran Pakchokdee, director of the Anti-Alcohol Organisations Network, told The NationNewspaper
A ban, aimed at reducing deaths from road accidents over the period, will be proposed by Dr Saman Futrakul, director of the Disease Control Department’s Office of Alcoholic Beverage and Tobacco Consumption Control Committee.
The committee, chaired by Public Health Minister Pradit Sinthawanarong, is expected to announce a decision on Monday. If the proposed ban is passed, it will be submitted for final approval to the National Alcohol Beverage Policy Committee, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Plodprasop Suraswadi, on March 28, in time for next month’s water festival.
Saman’s earlier proposal for a year-round ban on the sale of alcohol on pavements, roadside areas and public walkways was shelved by Plodprasob’s committee last December.
Thailand currently bans alcohol sales on four major religious holidays: Makha Bucha Day, Visakha Bucha Day, Asarnha Bucha Day and Buddhist Lent Day.
In related news, the Thailand Accident Research Centre (TARC) recently conducted a study into accidents on Thai roads over the past 20 years.
Kunnawee Kanitpong, who headed the research, said that statistics for 1993-2011 road accidents and fatalities gathered by two agencies – the National Police Office and the Public Health Ministry – varied significantly (see graphic).
Prommin Kantiya, director of the Accident Prevention Network, said Thailand lacked a single systematic process to gather such information.
He said police statistics only covered cases in which victims had died on the same day as their accidents, while the Public Health Ministry collects follow-up information for another 30 days and therefore records a much higher number of road-accident fatalities.
However, the number of road deaths recorded by the Health Ministry is still lower than that gathered by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Last month the WHO reported that up to 26,000 people are killed in road accidents every year in Thailand, which places the country as sixth-highest in the world for road fatalities.
The TARC research indicates that integration of relevant agencies is necessary to gain a true reflection of trends in road use and the toll that road accidents take, said Kunnawee.
The research study, the fruit of almost a year’s work, will be forwarded to the Road Safety Centre and published in a book this year.