Neon sign advertising the sale of alcoholic drinks, Source: Unsplash

Latvia to raise drinking age to 20

Latvia to raise drinking age to 20

The amendment to the law shows regard for the public health of youngsters

Yesterday, the Latvian Parliament’s Social and Employment Matters Committee adopted the proposals for amendments to the law that defines the standards for the sale of alcoholic beverages. One of these concerns the raising of the legal drinking age, which when the process is finalized will go from 18 to 20.

Medical experts provided advice at the committee stating that human brains develop until the age of 25, which necessitates better monitoring and protection of the health of young people. According to Dr. Pēteris Apinis, as quoted by the Baltic News Network, while the amendments are a step in the right direction, they are mostly cosmetic and will not do much.

Nevertheless, when the amendment goes into effect, this will make Latvia, one of only two countries in the European Union to have this kind of age restriction.

Lithuania did the same in 2018

The other country is Latvia’s neighbour – Lithuania, which took the step already in 2018. In most of Europe, the standard legal drinking age is 18 years old, although in the Scandinavian countries, purchasing distilled spirit beverages also requires buyers to be 20 or older.

MP Ingūna Circene said these amendments are “a minimal minimum” to make sure society doesn’t drink itself to death. “What we are talking about here at all, we do not prohibit the sale of alcohol, we try a little to improve and limit. This is hypocrisy from those who care about the economy or trade”, said the politician, stressing that the discussion is pointless.

There were some concerns about whether this restriction would limit employment opportunities to people under 20 in certain retail and catering establishments, however, special provisions were voted in that regard.

After the Easter break, the Committee will return to discuss amendments to the law regarding banning the sale of alcohol in shops to anyone after 3 pm on Sundays and public holidays.



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