NordAN contributed to the Latvian alcohol policy public consultation

NordAN submitted a response to Latvia’s Health Ministry’s public consultation on upcoming changes to the country’s alcohol policy addressing availability and labelling.

Latvian government adopted in summer 2020 the Plan on Alcoholic Beverages Consumption Reduction and Alcohol Use Disorder Reduction for 2020 – 2022. The Plan provided tasks to be implemented to reduce alcohol consumption and addiction in Latvia.

Now the Ministry of Health of Latvia has developed a draft for amendments of “Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law” with several new restrictions to impact and decrease alcohol consumption. The planned regulation amendments include:

  • ban price reduction and other special offer commercials on alcoholic beverages in mass media, press and other printed materials, in cinema, on the internet, by mail, also e-mail, and also in other places which are not alcoholic beverages shops
  • information/pictogram to be placed on alcoholic beverages to advise not to use alcohol during the pregnancy and while driving;
  • labelling provided on alcoholic beverages to include also information regarding the components of beverages, nutritional value, energy value;
  • provision to forbid free of charge alcohol beverages offers in gambling places and ban to sell, consume, provide alcohol near the gambling play machines, tables and utilities
  •  requirements for shops to exhibit warnings that alcohol use is forbidden to minors and its damaging influence on health
  • forbid to sell alcoholic beverages with alcohol concentration more than 22%, filled in plastic (PET) containers with the volume not exceeding 0,2 l.

One of the planned restrictions included in the draft amendments is to shorten the sales hours for alcoholic beverages and forbid alcohol sales between 20.00 and 10.00 (instead of 22.00 to 8.00 as it is now).

The Ministry of Health opened these draft changes to public discussion. NordAN sent today its comments and support for the planned policy changes.

“It has been the most challenging for Baltic countries to reduce alcohol availability. Nordic countries with state retail monopoly systems are the best examples available. By removing profit motives from alcohol sales, as monopoly systems have done, it ensures that alcohol is sold responsibly, lowering sales to underage and already drunk people. With so many more sales points to control, the options to reduce the availability of alcohol are limited in Baltic countries due to the presence of alcohol sales in ordinary grocery stores. Limiting alcohol sales hours is the logical course of action in this case. As WHO European action plan to reduce the harmful use of alcohol 2012-2020 also pointed out “strengthen existing laws and regulations to reduce the density and opening hours of alcohol sales outlets” was one of the primary recommended options for action,” states NordAN in its letter to the Ministry of Health.

NordAN expressed its strong support for warning labels regarding drinking during pregnancy. “Additionally, we encourage you to consider including a cancer warnings as well. Considering that the European Union has a current commitment to combat cancer, and alcohol is one of the major risk factors to address, this would be a good opportunity to address that topic. Europe´s Beating Cancer Plan has proposed a mandatory health warnings on labels before the end 2023. With that there is a clear existing support for such a change.”

The full letter of support