ALCOHOL and DRUG REPORT
Lithuania - Marketing and Advertising
Since the start of 2018, alcohol advertising is banned in Lithuania. Even though a similar comprehensive alcohol advertising regulation is in place in Norway, Iceland and Faroe Islands, this unprecedented decision made Lithuania to be the first European Union member country to have such a ban. The new legislation bans alcohol advertising from all foreign and domestic TV, radio, printed media and the Internet.
The Law lists exemptions that would not be considered advertising: brand names and logos at alcohol sales points, on equipment and supplies, company cars, etc., information for specialists, some packaging characteristics, as well as the accidental presentation of images during sports games and other events.
The Law also stipulates the procedure of enforcement in electronic environments, public spaces, and so on – the primary responsibility for tackling violations will rest with the Department for Drugs, Tobacco and Alcohol Control, who will be able to issue a mandatory decree for immediate removal of any advertising material, by way of a court order.
2012 advertising ban
Curiously, that wasn´t the first time Lithuania attempted to ban alcohol advertising. In response to the dramatic increase in alcohol-related problems in Lithuania, policy measures, including alcohol advertising and availability restrictions combined with taxation increase, were implemented in 2007-08. Simultaneously, a full alcohol advertising ban was adopted to take effect from 1 January 2012. Therefore, the alcohol industry responded with extensive lobbying aiming to revoke this ban, and ultimately, they succeeded at the end of December 2011. Source: Addiction 2014
However the power of the implemented advertising ban, sale time and age restrictions are constantly undermined by alcohol producers and sellers, reports Nijole Gostautaite Midttun from Lithuanian Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition.
One of the main methods of circumventing current restrictions is an enormous increase in advertising of non-alcoholic beer and wine. This translates in record sale increases of these products and likely impacts the reduction of consumption. There is an increase of articles in the mainstream media discussing the culture of food and drinking, ideology of freedom, while these narratives are frequently presented by internet influencers. Overall alcohol marketing seems to have shifted towards internet-based activities and consumer-generated content.
The persistent narrative in media that the control policy measures do not work and should be revoked is continuing. The messages are perpetuated by industry and industry-funded NGOs, unregistered lobbyist organizations and also politicians.
Enforcement and monitoring
Department of Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control is responsible for monitoring and dealing with possible violations of the law.
The Department has published also following instructions on what is banned:
The labelling of alcoholic beverages distributed in the Republic of Lithuania shall not contain links to websites that promote alcoholic beverages intended for the market of the Republic of Lithuania.
Retail sales of magazines, newspapers, and other publications featuring alcohol advertising are prohibited from 01-01-2018. It is the responsibility of distributors to ensure that, from 1 January 2018, publications containing alcohol advertising are not distributed.
Alcoholic beverage outlets and liquor stores, as well as catering outlets selling alcohol, are only permitted to distribute bottle openers, bottles, and glasses bearing the names and/or trademarks of the alcoholic beverage manufacturers or distributors. Other commodities, the distribution of alcohol advertising (such as T-shirts, caps under the trademark or distributor brand of alcoholic beverages) is considered prohibited alcohol advertising and therefore banned.
The Department also states what is permitted:
At the point of sale of alcoholic beverages, the names and registered trademarks of alcoholic beverage manufacturers or alcoholic beverage companies may appear on a neutral background. Eligible elements may be accompanied by visuals not related to people, emotions, expression of mental activity, etc.
At retail or catering outlets where alcoholic beverages are sold to the consumer, some of the information on the alcoholic beverage labels, packages and labelling may be provided.
The websites of companies other than those producing or marketing alcoholic beverages (such as online media) are only allowed to publish objective information (such as articles, news reports, etc.) on the performance of companies that produce or market alcoholic beverages, as well as historical, cognitive, scientific information. Alcohol-related information which is objective does not mislead the consumer and does not encourage the consumption of alcohol in general or the consumption of certain alcoholic beverages.
It is permitted to provide alcoholic cocktail recipes in the media (e.g. websites, magazines and other publications), but in this case, it is forbidden to mention specific names of alcoholic beverages or specific names or trademarks of alcoholic beverage producers and distributors. The recipe for alcoholic cocktails shall allow the provision of information on the groups, sub-categories or categories of alcoholic drinks used in the preparation of cocktails.