A qualitative exploration of the Thai alcohol policy in regulating alcohol industry’s marketing strategies and commercial activities
Introduction and Aims
The recognition of the association between the use of alcohol and negative health outcomes have led to the endorsement of the World Health Organization’s global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Given the capacities, capabilities and sociocultural contexts of Thailand, this study aims to examine the Thai alcohol policy against the global strategy’s recommended policy measures for marketing control and identify areas for further policy development.
Design and Methods
Semi‐structured interviews were conducted with the stakeholders from three sectors: the government, academia and civil society. Their perceptions of the Thai alcohol policy in regulating alcohol industry’s commercial strategies and activities were discussed. Audio data were transcribed verbatim, systematically coded and thematically analysed.
Although the Thai Alcohol Control Act meticulously regulates the content of direct alcohol marketing, the volume of marketing and indirect alcohol marketing have become problematic and difficult for the government to address. The industry has worked to normalise the consumption of alcohol through repetitive brand exposure and their suggestion that alcohol consumption was integral for socialisation. The control of alcohol sponsorship was politically sensitive and legally ambiguous because alcohol sponsorship seemed to provide economic and social benefits and further reinforced the industry’s positive image.
Discussion and Conclusions
Despite the strict alcohol policy, gaps in the marketing regulations exist. Future policy development should place greater emphasis on alcohol sponsorship and branding through evidenced‐based interventions. The interactions between the government and the industry should be monitored and restricted. Rigorous regulations, as seen for tobacco, are encouraged for alcohol marketing.