Liberal MPs have proposed lowering legal drinking age in Lithuania, reversing some of the rules introduced by the previous government. According to the prime minister, discussions on alcohol controls are likely to drag on.
“The discussion will definitely not be quick, and I think it's OK for it not to be quick, because we need to see the things that have happened after the previous changes,” Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė told the Žinių Radijas radio on Thursday.
The previous government, which introduced tighter alcohol controls, made the decision with dubious efficiency, she added.
This week, MPs from the Liberal Movement's political group in the Lithuanian parliament, the Seimas, proposed amendments to the Law on Alcohol Control, lowering legal drinking age and extending alcohol sales hours.
While the current drinking age is 20, the amendments propose allowing people over 18 to consume drinks with alcohol content up to 15 percent.
Another suggestion is to allow shops to sell alcohol every day between 10:00 and 20:00. Currently, alcohol is sold until 20:00 on Mondays through Saturdays and only until 15:00 on Sundays.
The Liberal Movement is also suggesting lifting some of the restrictions on alcohol advertising.
The previous government, dominated by the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, raised legal drinking age from 18 to 20 and banned all alcohol advertising.
The public, however, seems divided on the issue. A public opinion poll from May by Vilmorus showed in may that 46.5 of the respondents oppose any review of the existing rules, while 41.5 percent support it.
Meanwhile, as much as 74.6 percent of respondents were against lowering the legal drinking age, and 59.3 percent were against extending the existing alcohol sale time.