NordAN’s contribution to the consultation of the Latvian draft alcohol and alcoholism action plan for 2020 – 2022

NordAN responded to Latvia´s open consultation on the draft alcohol and alcoholism action plan with a letter of support encouraging the Latvian government to implement evidence-based policies.

Latvian Health ministry announced this July that alcohol policy is planned to be restructured. Draft national alcohol strategy wants to completely ban alcohol advertisements on television, radio and the internet, as well as restricting advertising of alcohol discounts.

The plan also includes a course of action to limit the availability of alcoholic beverages and tighter controls, for example by prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at service stations. On the other hand, it is planned to monitor more strictly that the alcohol is not sold to minors, as well as to control the movement of illegal alcohol.

NordAN expressed support for the plan as “it is based on a list of recommendations from the WHO, EU and national documents. The evidence that is supporting these recommendations is also telling us that most interventions are more effective if they can interact with other interventions.”

The letter reminded that several countries in our region (Norway, Iceland, Faroe Islands) had implemented a total ban for alcohol advertising and “starting from 2018, Lithuania became the first EU country to introduce it as well. Latest data confirms that a comprehensive alcohol policy, which includes a complete ban on advertising, has already shown positive results.”

On the issue of banning alcohol sales at petrol stations, NordAN reminded that as “Latvian traffic death figures in 2016 were 60% higher than the average in the European Union, it removes a problematic link between drinking and driving.”

Latvian action plan has a comprehensive approach. “In addition to banning alcohol advertising, limiting alcohol availability and pricing policies, it is crucial that you also focus on issues like prenatal alcohol exposure, cross-border trade and treatment.”