Lithuania: Kids’ Protection from Alcohol Marketing Improved
The Lithuanian parliament has adopted amendments to the country’s Law on Alcohol Control banning production and retail of food products, beverages, toys and other goods for children if their design imitates alcoholic drinks.
If we wish that our children do not consume alcoholic drinks, if we wish that the corresponding behavioral patterns would not be programmed in the early childhood, then it is logical to renounce such goods,” said Mr. Aurelijus Veryga, Minister of Health, per Xinhua News.
Fifty-three members of parliament voted in favour of amending the Law on Alcohol Control, seven voted against. The law amendments will come into force in November, 2019.
Veryga said that similar bans have long been in place as regards tobacco control.
Probably some of you still remember ‘cigarettes’ made of chocolate or chewing gum,” Veryga said.
Big Alcohol: catch them early
The minister explains that products like the so called “children’s champagne” and others do contribute to modelling harmful behavior and expectations, suggesting that important occasions should be celebrated using alcoholic beverages.
The authors of the bill say that fizzy soft drinks in brightly coloured champagne-shaped bottles, clearly mimicking alcohol – sometimes marketed as ‘kids champagne’ – or non-alcoholic punch encourage alcohol use among adolescents and promote higher tolerance for underage alcohol use among adults.
Until recently, children, youth, families, communities and Lithuanian society were heavily burdened by pervasive alcohol harm. In 2017. the World Health Organization ranked Lithuania as the world’s heaviest alcohol user. WHO estimated that average annual alcohol consumption was at 18.2 liters of pure alcohol per capita in 2016, putting the small Baltic state ahead of Belarus, Moldova and Russia. Alcohol use disorder among Lithuanian men, for instance, was more than twice as high as the European regional average.
But in recent years, the Lithuanian government and parliament have been implementing high-impact and evidence-based measures aimed at reducing alcohol availability, raising alcohol affordability and curbing alcohol marketing. Raising the minimum age for alcohol use to 20, reducing alcohol sale hours and introducing an alcohol advertising ban are among the amendments to the Alcohol Control Law adopted in recent years.