New research grant will help to find best practices of tackling alcohol consumption in the Baltics

A new international project “Evaluation of the impact of alcohol control policies on morbidity and mortality in Lithuania and other Baltic states” funded by the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has been launched to investigate the effects of alcohol market regulations implemented in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The research backed by WHO/Europe is designed for a 5-year work plan that can ultimately benefit all countries of the European Region, identifying the best practices that can help lower alcohol consumption and associated health harms.

The WHO European Region has the highest levels of alcohol consumption in the world, with almost 10 litres of pure alcohol per capita and the highest rate of alcohol-use disorders in the population and the lowest share of people abstaining from alcohol. As of 2016, 10% of all deaths that occurred on the Region here were attributed to alcohol. The same year the Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – were found to have some of the heaviest drinking rates compared to other European countries. Alcohol consumption rates totalled 15, 12.9 and 11.6  liters of pure alcohol per capita, respectively. When considering current drinkers only (those who have consumed alcohol within 12 months before the poll), the numbers were even higher: 18.9, 17.2 and 15.9 liters of pure alcohol per capita.

Being aware of the situation, the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) of the National Institute of Health (NIH) awarded a grant of nearly $2 million for a WHO-backed research project that will gather alcohol and health statistics and compare their trends against the backdrop of  alcohol control practices among the Baltic States during the last decade.  Here, a special focus will fall upon Lithuanian policies from 2016 to 2018 – these included important changes in alcohol consumption and the implementation of cost-effective alcohol policies in the country.

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