On 4 June, a group of small business owners and bloggers gathered at the Parliament House and presented an open letter. The gist of the letter is simply this:
Revoke Section 32, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act.
Section 32 effectively bans the advertisement of alcohol.
The punishment is up to one year imprisonment and/or a fine of up to 500,000 baht.
The law doesn’t just cover normal advertising such as television, billboard or pop up.
A private person posting an Instagram photo of himself drinking from a bottle of beer at home is also liable to receive a summon from the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee.
It could be considered as “inducing others to drink”, and therefore is a form of advertisement.
Needless to say, the alcohol industry suffers because of the law. Furthermore, alcohol-related businesses such as bars and restaurants are also affected.
Add the COVID-19 pandemic and lock down measures, and business owners are barely staying afloat.
Many have resorted to selling beer, whisky and wine online, which of course involves advertisement, and hence falling into the category of “inducing others to drink”.
Because of which, many business owners have been summoned by the authorities and are facing fines and jail time.
Here are three business owners who went to parliament.
Niks Anuman-rajadhon is a bar owner and one of the speakers of the group, pictured at the podium.
“We live in a time in which alcohol businesses are being punished as if we are drug dealers,” he said.
“The law takes advantage of the people and of businesses. It’s not alcohol that gets people drunk, it’s the insulting treatment of the people that say we can’t think for ourselves.”
As a sign of protest against the law he believes is “unjust,” Niks has chosen to post photos of himself with alcohol beverage on social media.
He’s now a subject of police investigation.
She also started the online petition on Change.org to call for an end to the law.
With nearly 6,000 followers and still growing, Beer Wanderlust openly displays alcoholic beverages.
Asked if she has been summoned because of the photos on the Facebook Page, Prapavee said no, but also stated that some of her friends who have been posting photos of alcohol beverages have been summoned.
“This [law] is completely unfair. We have to do something about it,” said Prapavee.
Supapong Pruenglampu is the producer of the local craft beer, Sandport.
He explained that because of lockdown measures, restaurant businesses have lost 80% of their revenues. In many cases, profits are only in the “two digits.”
However, he sees the issue as more than just about the pandemic and lockdown measures. It’s about ending the ban on advertisement of alcohol altogether.
“The fine on alcohol advertising is higher than for drunk-driving [20,000 baht]. It’s not fair,” said Supapong.