Regulation of Alcohol Outlets: Experiences of the First and Second Republic of Lithuania
In 1928-1931, annual consumption of legal pure alcohol per capita was just 1.17 litres, while in 2014 the alcohol consumption per capita was 12.7 litres. The alcohol outlet density is one of the most significant factors for the indicators of alcohol consumption. The aim of this paper is to compare the characteristics of the regulation of retail alcohol outlets in the First (1918-1940) and Second (1990-2015) Republic of Lithuania. The goals are the following: to evaluate the aspects of alcohol outlet density, expiration dates and issue conditions of seller licences, and the maintenance of public order of seller licence usage as well as assurance of safety in the neighbourhoods, and to determine the period of Seimas (governing parties) ruling during which fundamental changes occurred in the liberalization or prohibition with regards to regulation of alcohol outlets. The paper is based on the method of document analysis. It was determined that the regulation of alcohol outlets was much stricter in the period of the First Republic of Lithuania than in the period of the Second Republic. In the First Republic of Lithuania, the regulation of the density of alcohol outlets was connected to the assurance of public safety and prevention of noise, the community was involved in the regulation of the density of alcohol outlets, the density of alcohol outlets was regulated, the prohibited distances were defined between alcohol outlets and places of worship, cemeteries, healthcare and education establishments or other institutions significant to the public, the issued licences were short-term, for the period of one year. Even though in the period of the ruling of Antanas Smetona in 1934 the alcohol outlet regulation was liberalized, eliminating the influence of residents and municipalities on the issuing of licences, alcohol outlet regulation still remained stricter than in the period of the Second Republic of Lithuania. In 2002, the social-democratic coalition, which had the majority in the government, strongly liberalized the alcohol outlet regulation: it abolished any regulation of alcohol outlet density, eliminated short-term licences and authorised alcohol sales in sanatoriums, kiosks and petrol stations. Only the political group of Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian democrats, which had the majority in the Seimas of 2008-2012, managed to prohibit sales in kiosks and petrol stations, but the density remained unregulated, the licences were still short-term, the licencing was unconnected to public safety and assurance of public order, and the community’s influence was restricted only to expression of opinion on the issuing of new alcohol seller licences in the blocks of flats they reside in. It is recommended to connect alcohol outlet regulation with public safety and assurance of public order, to regulate outlet density, to issue short-term licences, and to empower the residents to participate in the alcohol outlet regulation.