The Centre for Alcohol Studies (CAS) on Sunday warned against extending opening times for pubs and bars to 4am in tourism provinces, citing statistics from other countries.
Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn announced earlier that he will ask the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration to allow tourist zones to extend the drinking deadline from 2am to 4am.
Phiphat argued that 4am closing would suit foreign tourists, who start drinking late.
He also noted that if pub hours were not extended, tourists would simply buy alcohol to drink elsewhere.
He wants extensions to be approved for Bangkok, Pattaya, Krabi, Phuket, Hua Hin, Samui and Chiang Mai starting from October.
Opposing the move, CAS deputy manager Surasak Chaiyasong said time zones for alcohol sales are approved by the World Health Organisation as a way of reducing problems related to drinking.
Surasak, an assistant professor of pharmacy at Mahasarkham University, said banning alcohol sales late at night and on certain public holidays helped to prevent problems such as physical assault, drink-driving, road accidents and other drink-related crimes.
Citing statistics from other countries, he said restricting late-night alcohol sales in Russia reduced people’s frequency of drinking while similar limits on buying alcohol in Switzerland and Germany had reduced the number of people admitted to hospital for drink-related issues. Meanwhile restrictions on alcohol sales in Lithuania had cut the number of road accidents and injuries.
In contrast, allowing late-night drinking had triggered a rise in physical assaults, injuries, drink-driving and other destructive behaviour, he said.
Surasak cited statistics from Australia showing that extending bar hours had led to increased drinking and road accidents. Longer sale hours in Iceland also led to a rise in emergency-ward patients, injuries, quarrels, physical assaults and drink-driving.
He added that Norway saw a 16 per cent rise in physical assaults after extending alcohol sales by just one hour.
“From the academic data and experiences of several countries, it is clear that restricting the days and hours in which alcohol can be sold is an effective measure for preventing and reducing problems related to drinking,” Surasak said.
“We disagree with the extension of bar hours to 4am,” he added.