The alcohol consumption rate among Thai population has been rapidly increasing. Annual per capita consumption in 1989 was 20.2 liters. By 2003 per capita consumption had risen to 58.0 liters. Thais have the fifth highest rate of alcohol consumption in the world. Although consumption of alcohol is particularly common among males, between 1996 and 2003 consumption among girls aged from 15-19 years rose almost six times.
Work by ThaiHealth helped persuade the cabinet to pass a resolution on 29 July 2003 to ban advertisements of all beverages with more than 0.5% alcohol on radio and TV broadcast between 5am and 10pm. The resolution included additional measures to control alcohol consumption and reduce traffic accidence, including the establishment of a National Committee for Alcohol Consumption Control, chaired by the Minister of Public Health.
- Promote cooperation among groups working on alcohol policy
The National Committee for Alcohol Consumption Control is responsible for setting out policies and guidelines on the control of alcohol consumption, for improving coordination among relevant organizations, and enhancing implementation. ThaiHealth is responsible for coordinating the work of the three major subcommittees: the academic subcommittee, the subcommittee on campaign and public relations, and the subcommittee on legal provisions. ThaiHealth also organizes workshops to develop strategies for alcohol consumption control in Thailand
- Support for effective legal enforcement
We will support the establishment of an enforcement surveillance center that will receive complaints from public regarding violations of alcohol control regulations. We will also assist other organizations in the enforcement of the regulations.
- Support for research and evaluation
One major constraint in the alcohol consumption control campaign has been a lack of systematic research on the roles of alcohol in Thai society. A literature review by the Social Research Institute, Chulalongkorn University, found 268 academic papers and reports, of which 77 were written in Thai. In addition, there are few academics, researchers, activists, administrators, and policy makers who are interested in alcohol consumption control. People working in this field have received insufficient support from their institutions.
ThaiHealth has therefore decided to support a proposal by the Health System Research Institute (HSRI) to establish a research center on alcohol consumption. This center will carry out the following activities:
- Compile and synthesize relevant information
- Conduct research on policy-relevant topics in a cost-effective way
- Develop a user-friendly database for monitoring alcohol consumption
- Disseminate information, in ways that suit the needs of the diverse audiences
- Provide advice to organizations working on alcohol issues
- Provision of funding
ThaiHealth has funded activities carried out by alcohol control organizations in Thailand. For instance, it has paid for major advertising campaigns to reduce alcohol-related traffic accidents at Thai New Year, to encourage abstinence from alcohol during Buddhist Lent, to raise awareness about the links between alcohol and domestic violence, and to reduce the number of new drinkers. It has provided funding to replace sponsorship by the alcohol industry.