Lithuanian MP: Lithuania could benefit from Nordic experience

Last Friday, September 18, NordAN board members visited Lithuania parliament and had a meeting with Seimas Drug and Alcohol Addiction Prevention Commission Chairwoman Larisa Dmitrijeva discussing alcohol policy and closer cooperation.

Mrs Dmitrijeva introduced current challenges in Lithuanian alcohol policy admitting that recent data by WHO is undoubtledly alarming. According to WHO, Lithuania´s per capita consumption level is third in the world. She also introduced some important developments and spoke also about a current initiative to add labels to alcoholic beverages warning pregnant women not to drink. The goal is to inform pregnant women that drinking alcohol during pregnancy, even in small amounts, can have serious consequences for the baby’s health.

After a closed meeting a press conference was given. NordAN President Prof. Peter Allebeck spoke about alcohol policy principles in Sweden where there is both a political and social consensus that alcohol is absolutely not tolerated while driving, during pregnancy and at work.

Speaking about alcohol availability NordAN board members from Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Finland spoke about their retail monopoly systems which are supported by the public  and is seen as an effective tool to protect consumers and their rights and not only as “prohibitive” tool. State alcohol monopoly control ensures compliance with the law, to minimize the availability of alcohol to minors.

Stig Erik Sørheim stressed that although Norway has currently very liberal government, it supports all of the essential elements of the Norwegian alcohol control policies. Arni Einarsson from Iceland spoke also about the successful prevention work among young people as a result of which there has been a serious decline in alcohol consumption among children and young people in Iceland.  He stressed that prevention work is based on existing control policies like high prices, monopoly system and a total ban on alcohol advertising.

Kristiina Hannula from Finland spoke about mandatory health classes for 7-9 graders pointing it out that they are necessary as part of the wider alcohol control policy package, which in Finland has recently been strengthened by prohibiting alcohol marketing on social networks.

NordAN board members expressed strong support for Lithuanian initiatives for warning labels and for a plan to prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages in service stations and reminded that Nordic countries have also been characterized by extremely problematic use of alcohol and only systematic reduction in the availability of alcohol, the prohibition of advertising and price-raising measures have contributed to achieve the results which Norway, Iceland and Sweden are now able to deliver as success stories.