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Today Thai law prohibits baby formula advertising.

Today Thai law prohibits baby formula advertising.

The law prohibits the advertisement and promotion of infant formulas are effective in Thailand today. The law is a government effort to encourage breastfeeding because the country has the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world – only 12.3 percent of mothers in Thailand breastfeed in this way.

The new legislature, approved in August, also bans coupons, samples, and manufacturer gifts of infant formula as well as banning bribes to public health officials, medical, and nursing staff to endorse or encourage the products. Known violators of the law can be jailed for up to one year and/or fined up to THB100,000 and another THB10,000 daily until the violation stops, reported Thai PBS.

The law bans disbursement of infant formula samples at hospitals, a common giveaway in maternity wards and often a welcome item for harried new mothers who may have trouble adjusting to caring for a baby around the clock and breastfeeding. Supporters call the law a step forward in promoting breastfeeding as natural, affordable, and healthy, while critics say the ad ban could infringe on a woman’s right to information and her right to choose for herself.

The wording in the law covers “both direct and indirect” advertising and has the support of United Nations’ children’s agency UNICEF, according to Reuters. “For Thailand, this is a major step in protecting and promoting breastfeeding and ensuring that children get the best possible start in life,” according to a statement from UNICEF.

It’s recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) that babies breastfeed for their first six months and some studies show that breastfeeding may prevent certain infant deaths and boosts physical and mental growth. The organization pointed out that formula has been marketed aggressively to Thai mothers and that women throughout Asia face more harassment for breastfeeding in public than they might in other parts of the world. Coconuts Bangkok


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