Harmful effects of tobacco and alcohol considered by Saeima

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The Latvian Saeima moved forward with legislation designed to reduce the negative health impacts of smoking and drinking on Thursday, May 18.

In the final reading, the Saeima accepted amendments based on a European Commission directive that set a limit for putting flavored heated tobacco products on the market.

Since May 20, 2020, it has already been prohibited to put on the market flavored (3% by volume or more) tobacco products (cigarettes and rolling tobacco). With the amendments to the law, the limit will also apply to heated tobacco products such as 'e-cigarettes' and 'vaping' equipment.

A number of studies indicate that tobacco and nicotine products, to which flavoring is added, attract the interest of non-smokers, especially young people, to try or start smoking, says the annotations of the bill. In essence, tobacco products must in future taste principally of tobacco. The norms included in the law will enter into force on October 23 of this year.

In a separate move, the Saeima agreed in a first reading to amendments that will further tighten rules on advertising acoholic drinks.

It is intended that alcoholic beverages will have to have an easily visible and clearly legible additional label and a warning pictogram not to consume alcoholic beverages during pregnancy or while driving a vehicle. It is planned to establish a transitional period of three years after the law comes into force, in order to ensure changes in the intended labeling. Products that were manufactured and labeled before the date of entry into force of the norm will be able to be distributed until their stocks run out, the draft law provides. 

It is expected that retail outlets will have to display a visible sign warning that the consumption of alcoholic beverages has a negative impact on health, that alcoholic beverages may not be sold to minors, and that minors may not purchase, consume, or store them. 

It is also planned to impose a ban on offering alcoholic beverages for free, as gift or prize at sales points, and a ban on alcohol sales in gaming halls in what is intended to separate two different addictive processes, says the annotation of the draft law. 

Advertisements of prices and discounts of alcoholic beverages are planned to be allowed only in places where they are sold, at their production sites or at the manufacturer's premises, as well as on websites. However, the mentioned restrictions will not be applied to the advertisement of the trademark or brand itself. 

Various other measures are also envisaged, including prohibition of '2 for 1' and similar discounts. It is also planned to prohibit the purchase of discounted alcoholic beverages together with another product or service such as 'buy a burger and get a free beer'. 

Related amendments to the Law on Electronic Media were conceptually supported in the Saeima. They prohibit the advertising of prices or discounts on alcoholic beverages. Currently, beer and wine advertising is allowed on television and radio. In order for the amendments to enter into force, they must be supported by the Saeima in two more readings.


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