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Regulation of alcohol marketing in Latvia

Eurocare supports Latvia's draft legislation on alcohol marketing

The Ministry of Health of Latvia has prepared two draft legislative acts based on measures in the Alcoholic Beverage Consumption Reduction and Alcoholism Restriction Action Plan 2012-2014. The draft legislative act on Handling of Alcoholic Beverages Law includes the prohibition of the display of persons in alcohol adverts and the prohibition to advertise special offerings of alcoholic beverages (except if placed in the point of sale and are not take-away). And the draft legislative act on Electronic media law includes restrictions of alcohol advertising on TV and radio from 6 am to 10 pm.

Eurocare has expressed our strong support for the draft legislation, and regulation of price and marketing are two of the three “best buys” the World Health Organization presents in their paper “Prevention and Control of NCDs: Priorities for Investment”[i].

Price is a well established policy measure to promote and protect public health. Bulk sales like “3 for the price of 2” reduces the actual price of the commodity and price impact the total consumption, which is correlating with the cost to society from harmful use of alcohol. There is a strong body of evidence for using price as an important component in alcohol policies, and recently highlighted in the OECD’s Health Working Paper No. 66 “The Role of Fiscal Policies in Health Promotion” (2013)[ii]. Eurocare is therefore strongly supporting the proposed legislation to also regulate special offerings of alcoholic beverages.

A stricter regulation of alcohol marketing is a very positive measure from a public health perspective. Research shows that exposure to marketing can affect early initiation of alcohol use as well as riskier drinking patterns[iii]. To ensure there are regulation for content (what can be shown) and time (when it can be shown) is therefore important steps in the right direction. In addition to the WHO “best buys” mentioned above, marketing is also addressed in a number of other policy recommendations, such as the WHO global strategy to reduce the harmful use of alcohol[iv].

Regulation of alcohol marketing is a policy measure we see being increasingly used in several European countries, as the alcohol industry is targeting new consumers. Countries such as France, Sweden, Norway, Turkey and Russia have all very strong regulations on marketing. Furthermore, the most recent policy changes can be seen in Finland, which is now implementing strong regulations on marketing to protect public health, even trying to regulate marketing practices on social media. We see more and more countries moving into this direction, like Ireland. Latvia could now improve their alcohol policy by implementing the proposed regulation.

Alcohol marketing is the topic of one of the panels at the 6th European Alcohol Policy Conference, 27-28 November 2014.