Total alcohol ban sought for religious days

The Bangkok Post, Feb 22, 2008

Bangkok, Thailand -- All sales of alcohol should be banned on religious holidays, according to Deputy Prime Minister Surapong Suebwonglee. Mr Surapong, also finance minister, came up with the proposal during merit-making to mark Makha Bucha Day at Wat Suan Kaew in Nonthaburi.

To mark the Buddhist religious holiday, the temple and Thai Health Promotion Foundation held a campaign to keep temples free from alcohol.

Backing the campaign, Mr Surapong said he would seek an amendment to the Alcohol Control Act to prohibit sales of alcohol on Buddhist holidays.

Mr Surapong said the ban would complement existing measures to curb alcohol consumption.

The Alcohol Control Act currently bans alcohol from areas near religious sites, state offices, educational institutions, registered dormitories, petrol stations and public parks.

Citing research, Mr Surapong said alcohol consumption cost the country about 196 billion baht in health and other spendings a year _ three times more than the excise taxes which the government collects.

Those costs include damage to people's health, crime and accidents associated with alcohol consumption, he said.