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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.
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.
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