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Study: alcohol consumption in Lithuania down, but not because of strict laws

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Alcohol consumption in Latvia is dropping gradually, but the process has little in common with increased taxes and the government’s restrictions on consumption of high-grade alcohol, public media LRT reports on the study performed by Vilnius University.

The study on alcohol consumption shows that residents often look to Western residents when it comes to alcohol consumption habits.

«The overall alcohol consumption is going down, fewer people drink every week and more consume alcohol twice or three times a month and only on special occasions,» says Vita Karpušienė, an associate professor at Vilnius University. «Our habits are becoming more Western.»

Last year, Lithuanians older than 15 years consumed 13.8 litres of alcohol on average. Sales of legal alcohol in Lithuania had declined 7% last year. Still, many procured high-grade alcoholic drinks in Latvia or Poland. Researchers allow that alcohol consumption may have dropped by one percentage point.

They have also evaluated the influence of the government’s work, specifically with the increase of excise tax, limitation of the time when it is allowed to sell alcohol.

Karpušienė notes that reduction of consumption is part of a long-term process that started around 2009. But it is more of a cultural, not government work matter.

The state has not had any noteworthy effect on Lithuanian residents’ drinking habits.

Valdas Sutkus, president of Lithuanian Business Confederation, believes higher taxes on alcohol force people to travel to other countries to purchase alcohol. The study shows that Lithuanians visit other countries to procure alcohol three times more often than they used to.

According to Karpušienė, many of the country’s established restrictions have no point and do not assist in any way to combat excessing consumption of alcohol.

«For instance, people usually drink excessively at home or at someone else’s home, while in restaurants and bars it happens four times less often. However, the government put more restrictions on alcohol sales in these establishments, while alcohol consumption at home is beyond control,» she says.

The articled originally appeared on LRT English


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