Lithuania is returning to advertising ban idea?

Minister of Health Vytenis Andriukaitis has proposed and registered new amendments to the Law on Alcohol Control, which would impose much stricter limits for alcohol advertising. These amendments would ban all outdoor advertising as well as advertising in print media and internet. The exception would be kept for television channels on which ads can be displayed at night time. If the new plan would go forward, alcohol could be advertised in Lithuania only in TV from 23 pm to 6 am and at the retail outlets.

It seems that even though minister Andriukaitis belongs to the Social Democratic party, Social Democrats does´nt support the initiative. Representatives of the Lithuanian Liberal Movement has expressed belief that this is in fact a public relations game and not a serious attempt to decrease alcohol consumption.

As always in these kind of situations, opposition to the initiative claims that as internet can be accessed crossing borders, there is no point to ban alcohol advertising inside one country.

Head of the Lithuanian National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition and a board member of NordAN Aurelijus Veryga welcomed the initiative. “The initiative is very good, the only question is whether it will succeed. I remember what happened two years ago – pressure from alcohol producers and media. Countries where such restrictions are introduced show good results. The best example would be the Scandinavian countries. Their alcohol consumption figures are among the lowest,” Veryga said.

The ammendments of the Law on Alcohol Control to ban all alcohol advertising were already adopted in 2008 and should have taken effect on January 1st 2012, but were revoked despite the strong protests from the NGO‘s involved in protecting public health. Revoking of the ban happened amidst of scandals of conflict of interest, undeclared lobbying. In 2012 the lobbyist for alcohol industry was charged with bribing.