Friday, 14 February 2020

The miserable failure of Thailand's anti-alcohol laws

Thailand is one of the 'public health' industry's posterboys: an early adopter of graphic warnings and heavy temperance legislation, as well as being a fierce opponent of vaping.

In 2008, the country passed a slew of 'evidence-based' anti-alcohol measures to tackle a perceived epidemic of underage drinking. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Act (2008) raised the drinking age from 18 to 20, banned the sale of alcohol in places frequented by youth and banned all alcohol advertising.

It was a dream come true for the neo-temperance lobby and included some of the WHO's 'best buys'.

As recommended by the WHO, cost-effective policy measures to reduce harmful use of alcohol and alcohol-related harm, especially among vulnerable populations such as children and adolescents, include restricting the physical availability of alcohol, regulating alcohol marketing and pricing policy, particularly when implemented alongside other strategies. Thailand is one of the countries which has been actively tackling alcohol consumption and related harm in the past decades following WHO recommendations.

This quote comes from a new study that looked at youth drinking rates before and after the legislation took effect. So how did things turn out?

Compared to 2007, students across all school levels in 2016 were 1.17 to 2.74 times as likely to have drunk alcohol in their lifetime, with the greatest increases among students of lower school levels.

Another big 'public health' win! What a Midas touch this field of 'science' has.

The rise in drinking was particularly pronounced among girls, twice as many of whom consume alcohol now than they did before the law was introduced. 

The authors of the study conclude that...

.. despite tremendous efforts in the prevention of underage drinking, including this Act, the implementation of the National Alcohol Policy Strategy along with several social movements, the prevalence of alcohol consumption among Thai youth has not decreased. In fact, it was found that the drinking prevalence has substantially increased, especially among female students and younger students, when compared to the year before the Act.

I believe this is known as an epic fail.

Overall, we could say that the Act seems to fail in preventing underage and youth drinking in Thailand, a result paralleling other studies, which found mixed effects of alcohol policies (35,36).

Don't expect this to lead to a moment's reflection in the 'public health' racket. As I have said many times, it is not a results-driven business.

No wonder they prefer computer models.

No comments: