Latvia - Alcohol policy strategy

Since the previous Program for Reduction of Alcohol Consumption and Restriction of Alcohol Addiction for 2005-2008 ended in 2008, there was a need to continue the implementation of common alcohol policy, which would result in a decrease of the use of alcoholic beverages and the reduction of health care burden caused by alcohol-related diseases.

The Ministry of Health, as the Secretariat of The National Council for Prevention of Alcoholism (hereinafter- Council), which has been an advisory institution on issues related to alcohol harm reduction in the country since 1995, and which is chaired by the Minister of Health, prepared the initial proposals for the new action plan. Draft proposals were first discussed on February 2, 2011, during the meeting of the Council, where representatives of the Council expressed their support for the new action plan. On October 5, 2011, Public Health Strategy 2011-2017 was adopted where, according to the task set forth in Action 2, Sub-paragraph 2.1, the Ministry of Health was dedicated to develop and implement the Alcoholic Beverage Consumption Reduction and Alcoholism Restriction Action Plan 2012-2014 (hereinafter- Plan).

 

Action Plan 2012-2014
The Plan was a short-term policy planning document and has already finished. The Plan aimed to provide planned, harmonised and coordinated actions to promote the reduction of the harmful effects of alcohol consumption on public health. Four key action areas proposed to achieve the target include the restriction of and control over the offering of alcoholic beverages, the reduction of demand for alcoholic beverages, the reduction of the dangerous and harmful use of alcoholic beverages and monitoring of indicators of alcohol consumption and its effects, and public information. It is expected that these actions will promote the reduction of activities related to the trade of illegally produced alcoholic beverages and criminal activities. It is also expected to change the acceptability of alcohol as the social norm in society, especially among young people and children. The Plan was also aimed to reduce health problems related to the harmful use of alcohol in society. Alcohol-related information monitoring and analysis of data are also one of the strategically important issues covered by the Plan.

 

The time frame starting from the conception leading to the adoption of the Plan was 2 years. Tough discussions with stakeholders on action areas and specific activities led to a very long adoption period and as a result, the plan was adopted only on December 19, 2012. As the most challenging issues were retail and advertising restrictions and issues related to the taxation of alcoholic beverages, no agreement was reached with trader NGOs, the Ministry of Economics, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Finance. Quite a difficult issue was also the determination of responsibility for sobering-up stations. While only a few measures under the Plan were carried out through financial resources from European Structural Funds, there were no additional resources allocated for the implementation of the whole Plan.

 

Results of the Action Plan
During the action plan, the obligation to show ID during the purchase of the alcohol for the persons of 25 years old and younger was introduced in the legislation. Also, the new legislation, which allows involving minors in the control purchases of alcohol and tobacco was introduced.

 

During the plan, an interactive map on the police website was developed, which allows people to warn about the places where alcohol is sold illegally.
 

Ban on alcohol outdoor advertising was introduced in 2014. Tough discussions where about the possibility to introduce a ban on advertising of special offers and discounts outside the premises of the sale, as well regarding the prohibition to show persons in alcohol adverts and ban alcohol adverts on radio and television during daylight hours (6 am- 10 pm). Since no agreement was reached between different sectors in the government, the draft legal act has been withdrawn.

 

Report on implementation has been prepared.

 

Currently (December 2016) the Ministry of Health works on new 3 years action plan.