Lithuania has shot up to second place in the Nanny State Index as a result of paternalistic regulation across every criteria. Alcohol regulation in Lithuania has been getting tougher for years but since the coalition government of the Peasant and Greens Union and the Social Democrats introduced the Law on Alcohol Control in 2018 the country has had the most draconian laws in the EU. The legal drinking age was raised to 20 in January 2018, making it the only country in Europe where 18 and 19 years olds cannot legally buy alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can no longer be sold in shops before 10am or after 8pm (3pm on Sunday); the previous opening times were 8am to 10pm. No alcoholic drinks stronger than 13 per cent can be sold at outdoor cultural events.

Alcohol taxes have been rising in recent years, with wine duty doubling since 2017. The sale of alcohol at petrol stations was banned in January 2016 and there has been talk of restricting sales to state-owned shops, as in Finland. Various alcohol promotions, including prizes, coupons, gifts, free samples and discount campaigns were banned in 2016, but Lithuania has taken the assault on marketing several steps further with a total ban on alcohol advertising in all forms. A ban on alcohol advertising has had serious implications for foreign newspapers and magazines with alcohol advertisements.

Tobacco duty is low by EU standards but smoking is banned in most indoor public places and on parts of some beaches. Although smoking rooms are permitted indoors, some municipalities declare certain outdoor public places, such as town squares and bus stops, smoke-free zones and there are plans to ban smoking on café terraces, private balconies and beaches. The government also plans to introduce a tobacco display ban in 2019 and plain packaging in 2022.

The Tobacco Products and Related Products Control Law of 2016 subjects e-cigarettes to the same heavy restrictions as tobacco products. Advertising, promotion and sponsorship of e-cigarettes are banned in nearly all venues and media. Vaping is banned in places where smoking is banned and cross-border sales of e-cigarettes and nicotine fluids are prohibited. Heat-not-burn tobacco is taxed at a rate of €54.16/kg but there is no tax on vape juice.

Like Latvia, Lithuania is strangely preoccupied with energy drinks (except coffee). It has been illegal to sell them to people aged under 18 since January 2015 and the advertising of energy drinks is banned in educational institutions, concert or sports venues, theatres, cinemas and in any media aimed at children.

The only good news for consumers in Lithuania arrived in January 2018 when the government announced that it would not be introducing a sugar tax, preferring to work with industry on ‘voluntary’ food and drink reformulation instead.

About

The Nanny State Index (NSI) is a league table of the worst places in the European Union to eat, drink, smoke and vape. The initiative was launched in March 2016 and was a media hit right across Europe. It is masterminded and led by IEA’s Christopher Snowdon with partners from all over Europe.

Enquiries: info@epicenternetwork.eu

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Previous version: 2017

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About the Editor

Christopher Snowdon is the head of Lifestyle Economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs. His research focuses on lifestyle freedoms, prohibition and policy-based evidence. He is a regular contributor to the Spectator Health blog and often appears on TV and radio discussing social and economic issues.

Snowdon’s work encompasses a diverse range of topics including ‘sin taxes’, state funding of charities, happiness economics, ‘public health’ regulation, gambling and the black market. Recent publications include ‘Drinking, Fast and Slow’‘The Proof of the Pudding: Denmark’s Fat Tax Fiasco’‘The Crack Cocaine of Gambling?’‘The Wages of Sin Taxes’‘Drinking in the Shadow Economy’‘Sock Puppets: How the government lobbies itself and why’ and ‘Closing Time: Who’s killing the British pub?’. He is also the author of ‘Selfishness, Greed and Capitalism’ (2015), ‘The Art of Suppression’ (2011), ‘The Spirit Level Delusion’ (2010), ‘Velvet Glove, Iron Fist’ (2009) and Killjoys (2017).


Lithuania 2019

Lithuania has shot up to second place in the Nanny State Index as a result of paternalistic regulation across every criteria. Alcohol regulation in Lithuania has been getting tougher for years but since the coalition government of the Peasant and Greens Union and the Social Democrats introduced the Law on Alcohol Control in 2018 the country has had the most draconian laws in the EU. The legal drinking age was raised to 20 in January 2018, making it the only country in Europe where 18 and 19 years olds cannot legally buy alcohol. Alcoholic beverages can no longer be sold in shops before 10am or after 8pm (3pm on Sunday); the previous opening times were 8am to 10pm. No alcoholic drinks stronger than 13 per cent can be sold at outdoor cultural events.

Alcohol taxes have been rising in recent years, with wine duty doubling since 2017. The sale of alcohol at petrol stations was banned in January 2016 and there has been talk of restricting sales to state-owned shops, as in Finland. Various alcohol promotions, including prizes, coupons, gifts, free samples and discount campaigns were banned in 2016, but Lithuania has taken the assault on marketing several steps further with a total ban on alcohol advertising in all forms. A ban on alcohol advertising has had serious implications for foreign newspapers and magazines with alcohol advertisements.

Tobacco duty is low by EU standards but smoking is banned in most indoor public places and on parts of some beaches. Although smoking rooms are permitted indoors, some municipalities declare certain outdoor public places, such as town squares and bus stops, smoke-free zones and there are plans to ban smoking on café terraces, private balconies and beaches. The government also plans to introduce a tobacco display ban in 2019 and plain packaging in 2022.

The Tobacco Products and Related Products Control Law of 2016 subjects e-cigarettes to the same heavy restrictions as tobacco products. Advertising, promotion and sponsorship of e-cigarettes are banned in nearly all venues and media. Vaping is banned in places where smoking is banned and cross-border sales of e-cigarettes and nicotine fluids are prohibited. Heat-not-burn tobacco is taxed at a rate of €54.16/kg but there is no tax on vape juice.

Like Latvia, Lithuania is strangely preoccupied with energy drinks (except coffee). It has been illegal to sell them to people aged under 18 since January 2015 and the advertising of energy drinks is banned in educational institutions, concert or sports venues, theatres, cinemas and in any media aimed at children.

The only good news for consumers in Lithuania arrived in January 2018 when the government announced that it would not be introducing a sugar tax, preferring to work with industry on ‘voluntary’ food and drink reformulation instead.

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