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Lithuania Plans to Restrict Alcohol Sales

The Baltic country is taking steps to cut back on alcohol consumption, which is one of the highest per capita in the world. 

11 May 2017

Increased taxes, limited selling hours, a higher drinking age, and a complete ban on advertising alcoholic beverages are among the measures the Lithuanian government is considering to curb alcohol consumption, EurActiv reports.

 

The new restrictions, currently still under debate in the Seimas, Lithuania’s parliament, would raise the legal age of drinking and buying alcohol from 18 to 20, and would only allow alcohol to be sold from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. The government also endorsed a complete ban on advertising alcohol from 2018.

 

Nearly 10 percent of the Lithuanian adult population suffered in 2010 from alcohol use disorders, including alcohol dependency and harmful use of alcohol, according to a World Health Organization report.

 

“Maximum compromise between limiting access, diminishing the consequences of alcohol intake, and addressing the needs of businesses and the economy has been achieved,” said Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis (pictured), as quoted by Xinhua news agency.

 

Some parties in the alcohol industry have criticized the proposed laws, pointing out that such restrictions might miss the mark, even if the prevention measures succeed.

 

“Experience has shown that restrictive control policies simplistically aimed at reducing per capita consumption missed the target problem, producing mixed results and unintended consequences from both an economic and public health perspective,” Jan de Grave, director of communications for the Brewers of Europe told Euractiv.

 

Laure Alexandre, director of SpiritsEurope, also said that the usefulness of the legislation comes down to the level of enforcement, which should also be prioritized with respect to the current alcohol laws. Otherwise the new legislation, and in particular raising the legal age for purchasing alcohol, will “at best be inefficient or worse push Lithuanians further to the black market, already very high in this country,” Alexandre said, according to EurActiv.

 

 

  • Lithuania is one of the biggest consumers of alcohol in the world. The country had the third-highest alcohol per capita consumption in Europe in 2015, according to WHO data, after Moldova and Belarus. While the average consumption globally was 6.3 liters (1.7 gallons) of pure alcohol per person aged 15 or older, Lithuania’s projected estimates were 16.2 liters.

 

  • One of the measures also considered is the opening of specialized shops for alcohol in 2018. However, Xinhua writes, the government postponed this proposal until the feasibility of such shops was further analyzed.

 

  • According to already existing legislation, petrol stations in the country are not allowed to sell alcohol. The sale of alcohol is also prohibited on 1 September, the first official day of the new school year, Xinhua writes. 
Compiled by Mate Mohos
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