Banned: Draft beer sold in Thailand's convenience stores

Selling draft beer via dispensing machines at convenience stores is a violation of the Alcohol Control Act 2008, the Public Health Ministry's sub-committee ruled yesterday.

Such beer sales violated the act's Section 30(1) that prohibited alcohol beverage sale via automate dispensers and also violated Section 32 that banned alcohol advertising because the dispenser also visibly carried the logo and brand of an alcohol beverage, said the sub-committee spokesman Dr Boonyoo Khorpornprsert.

The former offence is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or up to Bt20,000 in fines, while the latter is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or up to Bt500,000 in fines.

His comment followed the sub-panel meeting to consider whether this method of beer sales represented an infringement of the law, and to issue clear directives to all those stores selling beer.

Next, the sub-panel would ask the Alcohol Control Committee to proceed with legal actions against each of the 7-Eleven convenience stores that had sold draft beer via this method on a pilot basis, despite the owner CP All's previous announcement it would stop such a service, Boonyoo said.

He said this resolution was only about the 7-Eleven stores, not about other companies' stores that had not yet been inspected.

Dr Nipon Chinanonwait, director of the Disease Control Department's Office of the Alcohol Beverage, had said a sub-panel led by Dr Vitoon intended to discuss the matter so as to issue clear directives to all stores selling beer.

Just hours earlier, CP All announced that it would stop selling draft beer via dispensing machines at its 7-Eleven convenience stores following opposition by anti-alcohol protesters.

The pilot project had been launched at 18 7-Eleven branches earlier this month. The company said it had cancelled the trial due to concerns being raised by many sectors in society.

The cancellation came after representatives of the Stop Drink Network and the Youth Network Against New Drinkers had last Friday met the executives of CP All, which owns the convenience stores, to submit an objection letter against the new service.

Anti-alcohol advocates, including those from those two networks, also submitted a request on Monday for Central Family Mart Co executives to review their own beer sales via dispensing machines at the Family Mart convenience stores.

They claimed such sales would boost youngsters' access to alcohol and cause more alcohol-related deaths and casualties.