ALCOHOL and DRUG REPORT
37 percent of economically active residents of Latvia have admitted to purchasing illegal alcohol at least once in their lives, with many also admitting that the State Police is not doing enough to combat the sale of illegal alcohol, according to a survey carried out by the market, social and media research company “TNS Latvia” and the LNT television channel’s news program “900 Seconds”.
The highest proportion of those who have purchased illegal alcohol are residents of Latgale and Vidzeme provinces, males, and persons from lower income households.
At the same time, 60 per cent of respondents admitted that they have personally never purchased illegal alcohol. The highest proportion of those who have never purchased illegal alcohol are residents of Riga and the surrounding area, females, as well as persons with a university degree.
Furthermore, 80 per cent of economically active residents of Latvia believe that the State Police is not doing enough to combat the sale of illegal alcohol, while only 13 per cent believe that the police is doing enough. (Source: Latvian News)
Health Minister Guntis Belevics (Greens/Farmers) said in March 2015 that Health Ministry’s Latvian Health Platform is intended to to reduce the percentage of the population who smoke and (ab)use alcohol or drugs to 1% by 2065. He also said that by 2065 he will make sure the average lifespan in Latvia is 90 years. In 2013, the average lifespan in Latvia was 74 years, which is one of the lowest in the European Union.
According to the plan the number of healthy life years for both women and men will be 75, which is 16 to 20 years more than in 2012. In order to achieve this, the Health Ministry, in collaboration with the Center for Disease Prevention and Control, will focus on four pillars of the health platform – healthy food, addiction treatment, preventive healthcare, and physical activity.
Healthy food will help reduce the number of people who are overweight or obese. In 2012, the proportion of Latvian residents who were overweight was 32%, those suffering obesity – 18%. By 2065, the Health Ministry plans to reduce the number of overweight people to 10%, but obese people – to 5%. The ministry also wants to increase the proportion of people who engage in physical activity.
Reducing the number of residents who smoke and use alcohol or drugs to one percent of the population is possible, however, it requires educating people at a very early age, as well as implementing radical amendments to the law, commented Astrida Stirna, the head of the Latvian Association of Narcologists. In order to achieve this, there has to be a clear plan of action, says Stirna. The law has to be amended, and the availability of alcohol and tobacco restricted. “This is a complicated process,” the expert stresses. Alcohol producers are currently focusing on aggressive advertising which influences the youth, and it would be necessary to limit it in order to reduce the demand, the medic adds. (Source: The Baltic Course)
Minister of Health was changed on June 16, 2016 and current minister is Anda Čakša. The long-term plan is currently not in the agenda.