Background: Despite abundant alcohol control regulations and measures in Thailand, prevalence of alcohol consumption has been relatively steady for the past decade and alcohol-related harm remains high. This study aims to explore, through the perspectives of key public health stakeholders, the current performance of regulations controlling alcohol availability and access, and the future directions for the implementation of Thai alcohol policy. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with public health stakeholders from three sectors; the government, academia and civil society. Their perceptions about the current alcohol situation, gaps in the current policies, and future directions of alcohol policy were discussed. Audio data were transcribed verbatim, systematically coded and analysed. Results: The three key concerning issues were physical availability, economic availability and commercial access, which referred to outlet density, taxation and pricing, and compliance to stipulated regulations, respectively. First, Thailand failed to control the number of alcohol outlets. The availability problem was exacerbated by the increased numbers of liquor licences issued, without delineating the need for the outlets. Second, alcohol tax rates, albeit occasionally adjusted, are disproportionate to the economic dynamic, and there is yet a minimum pricing. Finally, compliance to age and time restrictions was challenging. Conclusions: The lack of robustness of enforcement and disintegration of government agencies in regulating availability and access hampers effectiveness of alcohol policy. Comprehensive regulations for the control of availability of and access to alcohol are required to strengthen alcohol policy. Consistent monitoring and surveillance of the compliances are recommended to prevent significant effects of the regulations diminish over time.
Available for download on Friday, May 03, 2019