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