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Thailand. Activists demand big hike in booze taxes

The government should increase taxes on alcohol just as it has done with cigarettes in order to discourage new drinkers, the Centre for Alcohol Studies says.

Sawitree Assanangkornchai, the centre's director said alcoholic beverages were considered dangerous and created health and social problems ranging from accidents to crime. It also puts youths on the path towards addiction to illegal drugs.

The centre wants the government to mimic recent increases in the excise tax on tobacco, which is forecast to reduce smokers by 3% and the sale of cigarettes by as much as 1 billion baht a month.

She said the measure would not only generate more revenue for the government, but cut medical costs for patients suffering alcohol- or tobacco-related ailments.

"The government should not support sin-products that harm the quality of life of Thai people. The tax on alcoholic beverages should be raised quickly, as price measures have been proven to be a primary way to solve the drinking problem, especially among new drinkers," said Dr Sawitree.

The National Statistic Office's figures showed that Thailand had about 260,000 new drinkers each year and a drinker consumed around seven to eight litres of alcohol a year, ranking the country among the top alcoholic-beverage consumers in Asia.

An NSO survey in 2014 found that 29.89 million people age 15 and older had never drunk alcohol before. About 7.23 million had not consumed booze in the past 12 months and 7.5 million drank regularly.

Dr Sawitree said it was astonishing that around 18,000 Thais died due to alcohol-related problems every year.

3 Mar. 2016

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