Lithua­nia’s rul­ing party LVŽS rolls out new ini­tia­tives tar­get­ing bad habits

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No ever Lithua­nian gov­ern­ment en­deav­oured so much to change Lithua­ni­ans’ bad habits as the in­cum­bent author­ity. For the au­tumn par­lia­men­tary ses­sion to be kicked off next week, new al­co­hol-ac­cess re­strict­ing pro­pos­als have been reg­is­tered, in­clud­ing those on the size of pack­ag­ing.

At the be­gin­ning of the year, the Lithua­nian gov­ern­ment in­tro­duced what is thought the strictest al­co­hol laws in the Euro­pean Union, rais­ing the le­gal drink­ing age from 18 to 20, re­strict­ing open­ing hours for off li­censes and ban­ning all advertising for beers, wines and spir­its.

And smok­ers in Lithua­nia hear even more bad news, with the Gov­ern­ment re­solvedly set to em­body a se­ries of new re­stric­tions to wean off the puff­ing habit.

Un­der new amend­ments, plain cig­a­rette pack­ag­ing will be in­tro­duced and the dis­play of cig­a­rettes would be banned and smok­ing in res­i­den­tial bal­conies, out­door cafes, beaches and other places would also be pro­hib­ited.

The amend­ments to the Law on the Con­trol of Tobacco, Tobacco Prod­ucts and Re­lated Prod­ucts en­vi­sion the com­mence­ment of the re­stric­tions from Novem­ber, 2022.

In the striv­ing of cig­a­rette plain pack­ag­ing, Lithua­nia would not be a white sheep, as Ire­land, France, Nor­way, Hun­gary, Slove­nia, the UK, Aus­tralia and New Zealand have al­ready taken the path.

If the amend­ments on the dis­play of cig­a­rettes and other tobacco prod­ucts in re­tail out­lets, ex­cept for spe­cialised shops and sec­tions, are green-lit, they will go into ef­fect as early as Novem­ber, 2019. Not only stores will be banned to show the names of pro­duc­ers and prices, but also will be stripped of right to pro­mote sales of tobacco goods and ad­ver­tise sale dis­counts.

With the mea­sures in place, sales of boot­leg cig­a­rettes are be­lieved to surge in the coun­try. One res­i­dent bought 60 packs of il­le­gal cig­a­rettes in Lithua­nia last year, ac­cord­ing to the Lithua­nian Sta­tis­tics. Al­ready now smok­ers en­counter in­con­ve­niences due to mul­ti­ple re­stric­tions, how­ever their ad­dic­tion will be even more tested with the new pro­hi­bi­tions.

The Seimas or­ches­trated by the rul­ing Farm­ers and Greens Party (LVŽS) also mulls ban­ning peo­ple from smok­ing in out­door cafes, bal­conies, ter­races and gal­leries, closed bus shel­ters, on beaches and at chil­dren play­grounds.

Now smok­ing in Lithua­nia is banned in all ed­u­ca­tional and so­cial in­sti­tu­tions, closed work­ing ar­eas, ex­cept for spe­cial smok­ing zones, res­i­den­tial premises where non-smok­ers would be forced to in­hale tobacco smoke, restau­rants, cafes, burs, clubs, dis­cos, in­ter­net cafes and other recre­ational premises, ex­cept for spe­cial­ized cigar and pipe clubs.

Peo­ple are also banned from smok­ing in­side ve­hi­cles with un­der 18-year-olds and preg­nant women among pas­sen­gers. Although there is an un­der­stand­ing that state has to care of its ci­ti­zens’ health, many Lithua­ni­ans are dis­grun­tled at the scope of the pro­posed re­stric­tions.

AFP/SCANPIX

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