Open letter to the Goverrnment of Lithuania

Open Letter to:
Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Republic of Lithuania
Andrius Kubilius, Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania
Irena Degutienė, the Speaker of the Seimas
Members of the Seimas

Tallinn, Estonia
September 12, 2011

Your Excellencies, dear friends.
We congratulate Lithuania on alcohol advertising ban, which is important public health promoting step.
Lithuania is giving an example to the whole European Union. It is clear that positive changes in social development are starting from someone’s first decision. Ireland was the world’s first country to introduce a full workplace smoking ban. Now we all appreciate much healthier working environments in our countries.
As people from another Baltic state we are proud that this decision to introduce total ban on alcohol advertising is coming from Lithuania. We have to remember that when we talk about alcohol we talk about addictive substance. Advertising in this context meansalso to promote the use of addictive substance.
When the Alcohol and Health Forum’s Science Group was asked (2009) by the European Commission to review the evidence on marketing communication impact on the volume and patterns of consumption of alcoholic beverages, especially by young people, the conclusion was clear: „Based on the consistency of findings across the studies, the confounders controlled for, the dose response relationships, as well as the theoretical plausibility and experimental findings regarding the impact of media exposure and commercial communications, it can be concluded from the studies reviewed that alcohol marketing increases the likelihood that adolescents will start to use alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.“
All three Baltic nations are struggling with problems related to alcohol use. Unfortunately our countries are known as EU3 with quite negatively emerging data about alcohol related injuries and harm. And so it is only logical that our governments decide to get rid of the reasons that are playing their part in increasing the problem. Based on the evidence, alcohol advertising is one of these factors.
We understand that this decision doesn’t please everybody. Alcohol industry and media, based on their economic interests, might have important arguments. But the first priority of the state is to stand for the interest of wellbeing of its people and someone’s financial interests shouldn’t jeopardize that.
We wish you the firmness and strength to stay with your decision. In long term this is certainly a positive change, which helps towards healthier Lithuania and healthier Europe.

Yours sincerely,
Lauri Beekmann,
on behalf of the Estonian Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition
Estonian Cancer Society
Estonian Family Doctors Association
Estonian Lung Association
Estonian Medical Association
Estonian Psychiatric Association
Estonian Temperance Union
Estonian Union for Child Welfare
Health Promotion Union of Estonia
NGO Salutare
NGO Tobacco-free Estonia

Lauri Beekmann