A Sunday Afternoon Diversion

It’s Sunday afternoon, the last day of rest before a long week of work, and you’re looking forward to a nice cool glass of beer or, in my case, a nice glass of Penfolds Cabernet Shiraz Bin 8.  But if you are in Thailand, make sure its past 5 p.m., since Thai law prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages (unless you are buying bulk) between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m.  But if you prefer a local beverage at a local venue, this should not be a problem since it is more than likely that this law is simply ignored.  But if you are a tourist at a good hotel, expect this law to be enforced with vigor.

And expect to pay three to four times more than what you would ordinarily pay for good wine elsewhere.  Thai customs and tariff laws make wine a particularly expensive choice in Thailand.  Notwithstanding a free trade agreement with Australia that  is intended to eventually eliminate duty on Australian wine, it remains very pricey in Thailand while local high octance spirits cost less than US$3.  According to the International Economic Law and Policy Blog, quoting from the Wall Street Journal:

Alcohol companies world-wide are lining up to fight a Thai plan to require graphic warning labels about alcohol on the country’s domestic and imported beer, wine and liquor bottles.

The proposed labels—which would cover 30% of the bottles’ surface area—include unusually explicit warnings about risks associated with alcohol use. One picture shows a shirtless man grasping a woman by the hair and raising his fist to hit her, accompanied by the words, “Alcohol consumption could harm yourself, children and family.”

Another shows a pair of bare feet dangling in the air after an apparent suicide and the words, “Alcohol consumption could alter consciousness and lead to mortality.” Others show diseased livers and a bloody motorbike accident.

The labels “are the most extreme we’ve ever seen,” says Brett Bivans, vice president of the International Center for Alcohol Policies, a Washington-based not-for-profit group funded by alcohol companies.

http://worldtradelaw.typepad.com/ielpblog/2010/09/liquor-labeling.html#comment-6a00d8341c90a753ef0.  And no distinction is made between the local version of white lightening and low alcoholic content beverages such as beer and wine:

Liquor companies also don’t like one of the main messages behind the Thai proposal: that even moderate alcohol consumption is bad. In a June report, Thailand’s Center for Alcohol Studies argued “there is no ‘safe drinking,’ ” only low-risk and high-risk consumption.

Thailand’s Alcoholic Beverages Control Act already imposes substantial restrictions on advertisements for alcoholic beverages.  But you wouldn’t know this looking around Bangkok.  And now these new regulations even though we have seen that Prohibition-like efforts to curtail or even prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages are having prohibition-like consequences.

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