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Thai Cabinet Moves to Restrict Ads for Alcohol, Caffeine - 2003-07-31

Thailand's cabinet has approved restrictions on advertising for alcohol and caffeinated drinks. The move is aimed at reducing the high number of road accidents in the country. The new advertising regulations will go into effect October 1. Under the rules, alcoholic and caffeinated drink ads can not be broadcast between 5:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m., billboards will now have to include printed health warnings and there will no ads allowed at school and national sporting events. However, product logos can be displayed.

The government said foreign studies have shown fewer ads resulted in a decline in alcohol consumption, and perhaps it will do the same with caffeinated drinks, which it says are not healthy.

The government said the new advertising restrictions should help improve road safety. Thailand has one of the highest rates of traffic deaths in the world, many of them caused by drunk driving.

Health Department spokeswoman Nitaya Mahaphol said, "If you look at the alcohol consumption of this country, you will find that we are among the highest of the world and this is a very alarming rate … We would imagine that cutting down on the occasion and opportunities of being exposed to heavy drinking would be helpful to reduce the mortality in car accidents."

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he is sure other companies would be ready to step in and sponsor sporting events, if liquor companies withdraw to protest the restrictions.