More Lithuanian young people are choosing the alcohol-free way of life, proving the efficacy of the Lithuanian alcohol policy model.
Improved alcohol policy laws were adopted by Lithuania in June 2017. But there have been talks recently of weakening this policy model. However, that is not what the public wants. The Lithuanian people support the current effective alcohol policy model which protects their youth and children from harm.

The Lithuanian Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department, NTAKD, together with the European School Survey on Alcohol and Other Psychoactive Substances (ESPAD) tracks alcohol use among school-aged adolescents between 15 to 16 years of age. The long-term ESPAD trend shows Lithuanian adolescents live increasingly alcohol-free.

In 2019 there were 21% Lithuanian adolescents who were alcohol-free. This is a significant increase from 2015 when the alcohol-free percentage of adolescents was only 13%, and a major increase from 2011 when it was between 2% to 5%.

This shows a 16% to 19% increase in alcohol-free adolescents in Lithuania across eight years, between 2011 to 2019.

15-16 year old Lithuanian teens living alcohol-free in 2019.
The ESPAD reports 21% of 15 to 16 years old Lithuanian students were living alcohol-free in 2019.

The fact that the number of young people who live without alcohol or give up alcohol has been growing steadily, albeit at a slow pace, over the last few years is very gratifying,” said Dr. Renaldas Čiužas, NTAKD director, as per

We hope that such trends will continue, and the number of young people who have chosen a healthy lifestyle will only increase and in the long run these numbers will be much higher than those who consume alcohol.”

Dr. Renaldas Čiužas, Director, NTAKD, the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department

There have been more promising statistics showing the positive impact of the Lithuanian alcohol policy model. For example, alcohol poisoning during the first pandemic lockdown in 2020 was only half the number reported for the same time period in 2020. Furthermore, alcohol production decreased in 2020 while prices of alcohol products increased.

The Lithuanian alcohol policy model

Lithuania is a country with a pervasive alcohol norm. Dr. Aina Medzevičienė who is 10 years alcohol-free says most Lithuanians are unknowingly in the first stage of having an alcohol problem. She says it starts from a young age in households since adults allow young people to have alcohol with them. This then leads to more and more alcohol consumption in various events, with friends and in college. Dr. Medzevičienė was at a point of not being able to go through a weekend without alcohol when she and her husband decided to go alcohol-free.

Dr. Medzevičienė says the whole of Europe has an alcohol problem. She stresses that there is no safe level for alcohol use in terms of the harm it causes to the human body. When training as a doctor she has seen first hand the negative effects of alcohol – even among young children of 10 to 11 years in emergency care for alcohol intoxication.

These problems are fueled by the alcohol industry. They deploy many marketing strategies to normalize alcohol in Lithuanian society and to recruit new consumers as early as possible.

In the face of this heavy alcohol burden, the new alcohol policy solutions were implemented in 2017 to address the harm caused by the products and practices of the alcohol industry. The new laws cover all three Best Buy policy solutions recommended by the World Health Organization. They include

  • Tax increase for all alcohol products,
  • Limiting availability to 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM Monday through Saturday and 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM on Sundays,
  • Increase of the legal age for purchasing and possessing alcohol products to 20 years, and
  • Ban of alcohol advertising, including billboards, TV, radio, the printed press and the internet.

The road to the modern, effective and proven Lithuanian alcohol laws was a long one with many obstacles posed by the alcohol industry. However, the broad coalition of health professionals, wider civil society, young people, and major political parties and leaders managed to withstand Big Alcohol’s pressure and make these effective alcohol policy solutions a reality. Movendi International member organization NTAKK have been the leading advocates for Lithuania’s groundbreaking, evidence-based alcohol prevention and control solutions.

Recently, the World Health Organization hailed Lithuania for successfully implementing WHO recommended alcohol policy solutions.

Lithuanian citizens support alcohol policy solutions

As Movendi International reported, a survey commissioned by the Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control Department found that most Lithuanian citizens supported the current alcohol policies in the country. Support grew even more in 2019.

  • 67% back the law raising the legal age (increase of 14 points from 2018), and
  • 62% support the total ban on alcohol advertising (increase of 5 points from 2018).

Despite the effectiveness and the overwhelming public support for Lithuania’s modern, proven alcohol policy, the new government has been discussing weakening these policies. The complete ban on advertising and the 20 year age limit for using alcohol products are two of the measures the government is discussing to weaken.

But a new survey by the news agency BNS found that Lithuanians are against the weakening of alcohol policies in the country.

  • 74.6% were against reducing the 20 year minimum age for alcohol purchase.
  • 59.2% were against extending sales hours.

The laws are already proving effective on the short-term as seen by the rising numbers of Lithuanian youth who stays alcohol-free longer or the figures regarding reduced alcohol poisonings. There has not been enough time to review the long-term effectiveness of the policies since it has only been in effect for a few years years. This is why the Lithuanian president who signed the bill in 2017 to adopt these laws, Dalia Grybauskaitė, urged politicians to refrain from new controversial proposals until effects of the modernized alcohol law could be assessed and analyzed. Unfortunately it appears the message is ignored by the new government.

We have introduced the restrictions adopted during the last term on the basis of the recommendations of the World Health Organization,” said Aušrinė Norkienė, the leader of the LŽVS party, as per

When we adopted these measures, we talked about the fact that it would take time to see the change. According to experts, the period of validity of these regulations is too short to understand whether the measures are effective or not. “

Aušrinė Norkienė, the leader of the LŽVS party

Sources “NTAKD: more and more young people in Lithuania do not drink alcohol at all, especially boys” [Translated from Lithuanian] “Poll: Most people do not support the relaxation of alcohol restrictions” [Translated from Lithuanian] “Doctor Aina has not been drinking for 10 years: “Could you not drink for at least a month?”” [Translated from Lithuanian]

NTAKD: “In Lithuania, 11.4 l of legal absolute alcohol consumption per capita aged 15 and over in the pandemic year” [Translated from Lithuanian]