The nation’s color blue

Organization for economic cooperation and development (OECD) has published data, according to which Lithuania remains a world leader in alcohol consumption. This caused a very negative response from the Lithuanian authorities. In Vilnius argue that this is old data, but in fact the situation is changing for the better. Indeed, as seen “the”, the anti-alcohol campaign in Lithuania is conducted with a frightening scale, Recalling the notorious Gorbachev’s battle for sobriety. Not so much methods, how many results.

the report States that in Lithuania per resident over the age of fifteen have an average of 15.2 liters of alcohol consumed. This is significantly higher than in other countries, consisting of OECD: in second place is Belgium — 2.6 litres less than in Lithuania. The least drinking country turned out to be Israel — only 2.6 liters per year per person over the age of fifteen years. It is understandable: for this heat… well Average indicator is 9 liters per year. The report also said that in Lithuania many people die from cardiovascular diseases, diseases of the liver and suicide, which is largely determined by the lifestyle of the people. The representative of the OECD Francesca Colombo adds that one of the factors that significantly affect life expectancy in Lithuania — consumption of alcohol.

indeed a Problem and a serious one. Last year the head of the Ministry of health of the Republic of Aurelius Veryga said that “every second resident of Lithuania is suffering from alcoholism,” if he exaggerated the situation slightly. Drink really hard and not only representatives of the marginalized sectors. Everyone remembers the case when the press Secretary of the Minister of foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius Race Akilian detained drunk driving — and, she initially refused to obey the guards. For being drunk in a public place was arrested the known political analyst Vytautas Bruveris. And last spring the staff Russian police detained for drunk driving Consul of Lithuania in Sovetsk Bronius of Makauskas. He himself, however, denied the charge and called the incident a provocation of the Russian special services.

High level of alcohol consumption gave birth to another trouble: Lithuania for many years is one of the world leaders in suicide. At last year’s according world health organization in this country are committed 32.7 suicides per 100 thousand population (for comparison, in neighbouring Latvia — is 21.7, and in Estonia was 18.9, Russia is 20.1). Suicide driving and the elderly, and young people, and ordinary people and officials, both civil and military. Sometimes, before you kill yourself, these people are killing innocent people. Thus, recently a resident of the village of Adanti in tauragė district shot his elderly neighbor and came to visit her citizen of Latvia. He then opened fire on the police, after which he committed suicide. In most cases people commit suicide for complex reasons — but the final straw is often exactly alcoholic psychosis, binge or just heavy intoxication.

Deputy of the self-government of Vilnius Romuald Pasevica said “the” that the beginning of the year in Lithuania began a massive anti-alcohol campaign. “From January 1, 2018, we entered into force amendments to the Administrative code, which greatly increased the fines for alcohol consumption in public places — from 20 to 100 euros, — says Posietskaya. — For a repeated violation of this kind will have to pay is 200 euros. Were also tightened rules on the sale of alcohol and a ban on alcohol advertising in the media, on TV and radio. Increased excise taxes on alcohol.” In the ruling coalition hope that these measures will annually reduce the average alcohol consumption of 1 liter.

Also, the Ministry of health of the country declared war on alcohol “points”. The number of stores that sell liquor should be reduced from 800 to 400, and for the sale of alcohol, you will need to equip the premises with a separate entrance, so they do not catch the eye of those who went to the store for groceries. These points will be located no closer than 200 metres from the cultural centres, sports and educational institutions.

In Lithuania even thought about creating a state monopoly for the network of alcohol trade. “Spirits can be bought only twenty years, will limit night trade in alcohol, reduced the number of points of sale, as approved by the Parliament program struggle with alcoholism. — We will toughen the responsibility for violation of the right of trade spirits. For the second violation associated with the sale of takeaway alcohol in catering establishments, will be deprived of license”.

Advisor to the Minister of health of Lithuania Linas Bucinskaite-Srubena argues that the measures taken are already having a beneficial effect. “Reducing alcohol availability, raising prices, ban on advertising of spirits are the main factors reducing alcohol consumption, says the clerk. — We already see today that they are working. For example, the innovation related to the excise tax, shows that sales of many types of alcohol falling”.

on the other hand, according to Bucinskaite-Srubena must still wait to see more significant results. “In Lithuania the consumption of alcohol has been declining for 2012. But this small reduction is 300-500 milliliters per year, says her words, the head of the control Department alcohol and tobacco Grazyna Belyan. We are not happy about, I would like a big change”.

Perhaps due to the fact that such drastic measures do not give tangible results, alcohol reform, so many critics. They believe that the need is not prohibitions, and educational work. The reform’s proponents, however, believe that mere exhortations and lectures do not give proper results. And they need today.

Romuald Pochepezky, according to her, were shocked by recent data on alcohol consumption among adolescents. “It turned out that 11 percent of fifth graders at least once a month consumed alcohol until intoxication. Among seventh graders, this is 23% and for ninth-graders — 60 — said, “the” MP. — It turns out, the availability of alcohol among adolescents despite the restrictions and tightening, still high. So you need to take additional measures.”

According to Posietskaya, the Lithuanian government declared war on “green snake”, would benefit from the experience of neighboring Belarus. At the time, this country ranks second after Lithuania in the number of alcohol consumption per capita. There is also adopted a special programme to 2020 for the prevention and overcoming of drunkenness.

In the ruling coalition say that the anti-alcohol campaign — investing in the future. But in the present it’s more trouble than real benefit. Excise fees on alcohol in Lithuania decreased significantly. according State tax inspection in March 2017, when entered into force the increase in excise duties, collection from collapsed to 40 percent. And not because of the fact that the country began to produce less alcohol. Just suppliers and manufacturers left in the shade, and 40 percent of the products were counterfeit.

immediately before the increase in excise taxes (and therefore prices), the Lithuanians rushed to the stores and began to buy alcohol for future use. And in may of last year the Parliament held a large protest rally. “We are cultural to have a rest, — said the organizers. — And the authorities ought to deal with the problems of these alcoholics — instead of prohibitions aimed at the average consumer”.

After that, the head of the ruling in Lithuania, Union of farmers and green Ramunas Karbauskis said that passion fanned representatives of alcoholic business. Indeed, among the initiators of the protest event were members of the opposition party “Movement liberals”. Currently, this party was in the center of the anti-corruption investigation — her former head of Agilus Masiulis and his party accused lobbying of interests of the concern MG Baltic, was engaged in the alcohol trade. However, critics of anti-alcohol programs indicate that she has not only a large manufacturer. Came under attack and small shops, for example, in rural areas, where a significant part of turnover falls on trade bread, sugar, salt, meat products and other products of the first necessity.

As his time in the Soviet Union, the anti-alcohol campaign led to the proliferation of the shadow market of alcohol. Many Lithuanians, especially in border areas, rushed for a drink in the neighbouring countries, especially in Poland and Latvia. In the beginning of this year the Latvian newspaper Latvijas Avize wrote that the town of Balvi (just over 7 thousand residents) per month bought 2500 bottles cosmetic alcohol BF Green. The cost of a 250-gram bottle of 60-degree liquid — less than one Euro. Local residents do not hide that buy cosmetic not to care for the body and for drinking. BF Green produces a Polish company, and especially to the Baltic countries.

the representative of the Latvian tax service Baiba Smite rock explains that people are attracted to the low price of the product — alcohol intended for the production of beauty products subject to excise duties. Lithuania tried to apply to the Polish excise duty product — but Vilnius had to defend its position in the European courts. Unsuccessfully.

Latvian journalist Denis Bartecki drove through the Outback of Lithuania, and wrote in his Facebook that grocery stores are inundated with cosmetic alcohol. “He was the cheap swill and one of the most popular goods. Put it right at the register, though this is not necessary. As soon as BF Green appears in the sale, the potential buyer is already aware, explains Bartecki. — Sales agents company distributor and speak to the owners of the shops: “We will provide you with the buyer”. They clearly explain to traders why at the grocery store cosmetic alcohol and how customer demand he has”.

But even if the government will find a way to prevent alcohol surrogates — the problem of cheap booze is not going anywhere. Lithuania is a small country. Leave it to Latvia and Poland are no problems is not, because inside European Union customs and border controls are not carried out. And so the more Lithuanian lovers of drink will be to restrict at home, the more often they will go for alcohol to neighboring countries. And this is the problem that Lithuanian advocates of sobriety still have to find.