Wednesday, April 24, 2024
HomethailandgeneralMinistry backs longer openings

Ministry backs longer openings

The Public Health Ministry has no objection to the government's proposal to extend the operating hours of nightspots, though it says preventive measures must be in place when the regulation is introduced.

An anti-alcohol drinking advocacy group, meanwhile, urged the government to put the proposal on hold unless it can come up with measures to handle the repercussions of the change.

It has proposed a huge fund drawn from the liquor industry to provide assistance to people affected.

Public Health Minister Dr Cholnan Srikaew said on Saturdaythe ministry is ready for the proposed regulation because its approval must be based on three criteria: clear zoning for entertainment venues; target groups; and preventive measures.

However, Wissanu Srithawong, a manager for public policy of the StopDrink Network, said the policy is likely to do more harm than good. If the government is really set on it going ahead, proactive measures should be put in place first, he said.

Citing surveys, he also claimed most people do not support it.

The government’s proposal to extend the operating hours of nightspots to 4am is based on a projection that it will increase tourism revenue.

Mr Wissanu said the number of people who are expected to benefit from the regulation is relatively small and the policy itself will affect more than 70% of people who do not drink.

He said ameliorative measures are a must if the government insists on pushing ahead. One idea is to create a fund, with money drawn from the liquor and related industries, to provide compensation to anyone affected.

He said the fund should start with five billion baht to 10 billion baht per year. It could cover expenses for those who need medical treatment to help them quit drinking.

“Healthcare agencies are still debating who should pay for medication to help treat alcohol abuse, estimated at 100,000 baht per head.

“The five to 10 billion baht fund is a good start because drinking doesn’t only cause injuries and deaths but also financial problems and family issues,” he said.

He said night entertainment venues are part of the problem and so they should pay, adding how much each industry should contribute should be studied.

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