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  • Lauri Beekmann

Saeima rejects age limit increase but moves forward with alcohol sales time restrictions

Latvian Seimas

09.05.2024 - In order to reduce alcohol consumption in society, plans are underway to limit the hours during which alcoholic beverages can be purchased in retail. It is proposed that from Monday to Saturday, alcohol can be purchased from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM, and on Sundays from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. These amendments were supported during the second reading in the Saeima on Thursday, May 9.

The Saeima rejected a proposal previously supported by the Social and Labour Affairs Committee to raise the age at which alcoholic beverages can be purchased to 20 years.

Alcohol consumption is one of the main risk factors that negatively affect the health of the population and also threaten the health and safety of the surrounding community. In our country, 51 percent of all death cases are attributable to behavioral-related risk factors, including alcohol consumption. Latvia has the highest alcohol consumption both in the European Union and among the countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, state the authors of the bill.

The changes to the law aim to restrict advertising, marketing, and availability of alcoholic beverages. It is also planned to ensure that consumers receive additional information about the energy value, nutritional value, and composition of alcoholic beverages.

To limit impulsive purchases of alcoholic beverages, those ordered online or via mobile application can be delivered to the buyer no sooner than six hours after the order is placed. Similarly, to reduce impulsive alcohol purchases, the amendments propose banning promotional activities that offer several units of alcoholic beverages at a lower price, as well as discounts on alcoholic beverages within consumer loyalty programs.

The amendments also plan to expand the prohibition of alcohol price and discount advertising. It is intended that advertising will be prohibited in press publications, printed advertising materials and publications, cinemas, websites, and online using postal (including email) services, as well as in retail locations where alcoholic beverages are sold.

Furthermore, it is planned to impose a ban on offering alcoholic beverages for free, as a gift, or as compensation in trading (including distance contracts) and service provision locations, whether or not they have a special permit (including beauty salons, hairdressers, wedding salons, electronics stores, automotive accessory stores, etc.).

The bill also proposes that the retail sale of alcoholic beverages for on-site consumption at gambling organization locations will be banned, including at slot machines, card, dice, and roulette tables, or other gambling equipment. The purpose of these standards is to separate two addictive processes, according to the bill's annotation.

For the amendments to take effect, they must be supported by the Social and Labour Affairs Committee and the Saeima in the final reading.

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