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Latvian parliament wants to hide cigarettes from buyers’ eyes

On Tuesday, 19 December, Saeima’s Social and Employment Matters Committee continued work on a legislative draft for more serious restrictions for trade of tobacco products, as reported by Saeima press-service.

The committee voiced conceptual support for the proposal that cigarettes and other smoking products are to be pulled from public eye, making it possible to purchase those products by request.

«Members of the committee agreed that it is necessary to continue measures to restrict smoking even more in Latvia. The proposal to pull cigarettes from buyers’ eyes is intended for youngsters and people who have either quit or are trying to quit smoking. The discussion about this norm is nothing new. Measures have already been introduced in several other European member states. For some reason, Latvia has yet to introduce any measures. We see there is political support for this idea in the Saeima. All that is left is coordinating it with the European Commission,» said chairperson of the committee Aija Barča.

The committee has formed a work group to discuss the possible derogations for port and airport territories, as well as specialized tobacco stores.

As noted by the head of the committee, what the State Revenue Service said on behalf of Finance Ministry – that no restrictions are needed for the cigarette trade – caused a certain amount of shock for members of the committee. «The official said that every pack of cigarettes brings the state budget at least EUR 2 in taxes. But how much does it cost to treat diseases caused by smoking, or prevent an early death? We intend to ask responsible ministries to prepare this information. We intend to ask the Finance Minister to provide their personal opinion during one of the meetings of the committee,» said Barča.

More serious restrictions on trade of tobacco products are provided by amendments for the Law on the Handling of Tobacco Products, Herbal Products for Smoking, Electronic Smoking Devices and Their Liquids. The committee intends to review amendments in the second reading.

The parliament notes that the committee’s conceptually supported proposal provides that information about tobacco products available for sale, prices and amount available for purchase will be made available on a special price sheet.

At the same time, amendments to the law provides that tobacco products and other smoking product labels will not be allowed to be use Latvian state symbols, as well as images of real people and cartoon characters. The restriction will apply to all packaging variants.

Changes to the law are proposed because, in accordance with World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, promotion of tobacco products and weapons is a restricted form of advertisement.


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