Beer
© Įmonės archyvas

The Parliament revolution against the sales of alcohol was blessed with a bang, as the institution was left both blind and/or deaf in regards the largest evil known a "bambaliai" – strong beer in plastic containers. The leader of the Peasant Ramūnas Karbauskis stated that restrictions in regards to them will come with time.

However, at the same time medics interviewed by DELFI stated that the beer sold in "bambaliai" containers has already become the main tool utilized by rural citizens becoming drunk and the only way to get rid of it and its caused effects – is to increase its price and/or ban it all together.

The amendments regarding the age restrictions for anyone under 20 years of age from purchasing alcohol, as well as banning the advertisement of alcohol and reducing the sales hours during which alcoholic beverages can be sold, made to the Alcohol control law were approved by a Parliamentary majority on Thursday. Furthermore, the law will come into full effect once it is signed by Dalia Grybauskaitė the President of Lithuania.

Furthermore, on the same day the leader of the Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union Ramūnas Karbauskis stated that in the future there will be further restrictions added regarding the restriction of the sales of alcohol in plastic containers known as "bambaliai". "They're a different matter" - the leader told to reporters on Thursday, explaining why their currently no harsher restriction in regards to their sales. According to, R. Karbauskis "they will come in time".

Moreover, while the proposal to change the sale of strong alcohol sold in plastic containers was proposed to the Parliament in early May, most politicians.

The proposal to change the way that strong beer is sold in plastic containers was already pressed to the parliamentarian in the beginning of May, when the majority of politicians and known crusaders against alcoholism LVŽS representatives rejected it in the Parliament. Furthermore, the striking power of the anti-alcoholic campaign – the Health Minister Aurelijus Veryga and R. Karbauskis, as well as the Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, did not participate in the vote.

The effect of the beer sold in "bambaliai" is longer

In the Alytus district for six consecutive years a successful program regarding the assistance given to people effected by alcohol is being implemented. Of about 300 people, 30 persons are no longer consuming alcohol for more than two years' time. 20-30 people have not drunk alcohol for more than a year. While the rest are still proving to have difficulties. Dalia Kitavičienė the director of the Alytus districts public health office and one of the ambassadors of the afore mentioned program to DELFI representatives stated that people dependent on alcohol practically live on the beer from "bambaliai".

"More than 300 people have "passed" through our program. I know almost all of them for more than several years. Statistics regarding this matter is not conducted, but there is no one that was dependent on vodka. But there was one dependent on cheap strong beer, and/or cheap wine. People living in rural areas also drink the so called "ink", as well as beer from "bambaliai" – stated Dalia Kitavičienė.

The price is not the only thing important here

"They have told me that they are intoxicated from strong beer, as well as its effects last longer. The whole effect of intoxication pleases them. Of course that is also relatively cheap" – noted the director.

Alcohol dependency is a chronic disease, whose sufferers replace constantly. Furthermore, as with any other chronic disease it lets worse over time.

"During relapses it is almost impossible to monitor the people that where once on the right track. While employers, social workers, family members and etc. may have set him on the right track, there may be a moment of weakness for them which will cause them to sink once again. There are instances that even after three years they replace. The biggest problems occur because of environmental influences.

As the people themselves state their influenced by "former friends". Let's image that there are 10 to 15 houses in the village. Both women and men drink there. Then when one sees a problem and decides to give up alcohol, it is only a matter of time when the people surrounding him will make him drink again. Then they go and go, ask for money while others make jokes about them. The environment and the inability to resist temptation is important, because of them the circle largely depends upon" – said the director.

The role of mothers and children

It is a frequent case that both spouses in the family have problems regarding alcohol.

"If only one of them begins to seek treatment.... They have to have very strong motivation to achieve this. This is incredibly hard. Over the last years, when we encounter such a family, we make sure to take good care of both of the spouses" – stated Dalia Kitavičienė.

"While some of them have people that tolerate them as they are until their death. In rural areas this is most often seen with elderly parents or wives. Alcoholics know how to influence others. Some mothers have said to give them money out of pity – as the hands of their child appear to be shaking, they appear to be hallucinating and etc. which makes their mothers hearts break and cave in to their demands. The other part of them worker even under the influence – half a day's work for a euro which sometimes includes looking after animal, chopping firewood or assisting with agricultural work" – the interlocutor explained.

However, the specialist is confident in the program as the number of successful cases is increasing. Despite the fact that many still like to highlight that alcoholism is an incurable disease, the people that have successfully overcome this - are the living embodiments of hope.

"There was a person that (I am not afraid to say this) was called a walking mummy by the village, who was an object of their jokes, that many people walked past on the way to the store. Now this man is already four years sober. He was partially paralyzed, but still managed to return from the other side.

"These are the examples that give others hope, that they themselves can overcome their afflictions and then maybe even assist their friends to do the same. The afore mentioned man said that he could bring a wagon of people that need help. But he doesn't only speak empty words – he is actually helping his neighbours to get back on their feet" – stated the direct of the Public Health Office.

Truthfully, not everyone is ready to receive or even ask for help. More than one of them stated that: "I do not drink the way he does, I do not have a problem" Which means that there is no first step on their behalf made – the recognition to themselves that they do have a problem regarding drinking too much.

There is no need for so called "high" materials

Although, the World Health Organization in regards to Lithuania announced that the state annually consume 18 litters per capita. The interlocutor has doubts regarding these findings.

"Yes, while there are people who do not have a day in the year were they are sober. These people truly drink more on average than other citizens. However, in total patients like this are not too common. I am doubtful that by dividing the total consumed alcohol by all citizens, we would get such an average. Moreover, more people than ever refuse to drink alcohol today" – the interlocutor stated.

Moreover, D. Kitavičienė proposed to stop talking in "high phrases" in regards to complex measures and to simply take action.

"For small village shops owners selling beer in "bambalius" is the only way to survive. Lithuanians are not necessarily bad for other Lithuanians, but the majority is going on the lines of the following principle – until this doesn't happen to me, it is not my business. That is why we cannot simply expect for the seller not to sell the beer. I am positive that there is a need to raise its price or even ban selling it. In my subjective opinion this would benefit us. People drink "bambalius" – not one at a time. They drink them constantly sipping maintaining the constant feeling of being drunk from early morning to late at night" – noted the woman.

According to, the interlocutor a person can be saved by very simple things.

"Sometimes it takes very little. Sometimes all a person needs is a phone call, or to send someone a message. This can happen also in the middle of the night – a person will write "Dalyt, I want to drink". And if I responded with a message that "idiot, don't give up, don't drink, we will meet and talk together tomorrow" there will be a chance that he will not rink. This is why it is very painful to me when our government thinks only about high materials, and not simple things like just being there for a person and helping him" – state the director of the Alytaus municipality's Public Health office director.

There are even cheaper measures

According to, Dr. Ramunė Vaitkienė the manager of the Vilnius Centre for Addictive Disorders, Alcohol withdrawal treatment department to DELFI explained that people with problems with alcohol seek to get drunk cheap and fast. However, there even cheaper alternatives to this than the measures described above if seeking to get drunk.

"Although, no precise statistics regarding this matter provided by the Centre for Addictive Disorders in Vilnius. However, the consumption of strong beer and fortified wine consumption obeys common logic – a person dependent on alcohol is seeking to get drunk cheap and fast, that's why strong beer and fortified wine is consumed by those that cannot afford to purchase vodka or more expensive spirits. While there are even cheaper measures than these if one is seeking to get drunk such as mouthwash, window washing fluids and etc. However, patients that consume them do not usually go to the VPLC for assistance, but rather the Vilnius Republican University Hospital with acute poisoning and complications" – she noted.

R. Karbauskis wants to think the decision over a bit more

"We are thinking about how to do it – whether the packaging would solve the problem, or if the answer is higher taxation for stronger alcoholic drinks. We are now solving this problem" – stated R. Karbauskis about the limiting the sale of "bambaliai" on Thursday.

According to, to interlocutor "bambaliai" – are a big problem, as they are the main instrument utilized by people with alcohol dependency. Nonetheless, the Peasant leader further noted that "the decision needs to be thought out very well" which is why the changes prepared by the Ministry of Health on the following issue need to provide assistance to the victims of addiction.

The Minister of Health A. Veryga also issued a similar response in regards to the same issue. "The issue in regards to packing and the types alcoholic beverages sold is extremely important and must be address in a comprehensive manner, rather than just another simple question. This question – is not just about beer. Furthermore, for this a notification in the European Union (EU) is required. This is not just a matter for only Lithuania. Therefore, it must be prepared properly, without making any hasty decisions" – noted the Ministers advisor Lina Bušinksiatė-Šriubėnė.

They did not want to limit "bambaliai"

About a month ago on the 4th of May, during a Parliamentary meeting without much consideration the Alcohol control amendments proposed by the chairman of the Order and Justice party Remigijus Žemaitaitis pertaining to the limitations regarding the sales of strong beer were rejected. The chairman proposed to allow strong beer to be poured only in plastic containers that do not exceed the amount of half-litter (currently allowed to be poured into plastic litter bottles), which would of course would also depend heavily on the strength of the beer poured.

Although, the initiative was supported by only 14 MPs, mainly from the TT and the Lithuanian Polish Election Action – Christian family Union Fractions. Members of the peasant party that were considering the question during a Parliamentary meeting, unanimously voted against the proposal and only a few abstained from the vote on the matter presented. Moreover, the matter was unanimously rejected by the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrat (TS-LKD) representatives, as well as the majority of the social democrat members.

"They did not agree to my proposal as this was not their project" – stated R. Žemaitaitis to DELFI in regards to the Peasant position about the beer sold in "bambaliai". The parliamentarian further noted that LVŽS "does not have someone to prepare projects such as this for them" that is why they are opposed with ideas coming from the side.

Furthermore, assessing the speech of R. Karbauskis on Thursday, R. Žemaitaitis stated: "We all sit and laugh, that the proposal is understood by them only after three weeks as it does to the giraffe".

Previously A. Veryga was not afraid of the EU

Regarding the proposal made by R. Žemaitaitis, the opponents of the proposed project argued that a proposal such as this may be contrary to EU law. Therefore, during the Parliamentary voting in early May the drafted proposal was rejected by the LVŽS, furthermore the chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Health Affairs Agnė Širinskienė explained that any restriction regarding the containers for the afore mentioned good would be in direct violation of EU law.

An argument similar to the afore mentioned was also utilized in 2011, when the Parliament after much debate adopted amendment to the Alcohol Control law which cam ethyl effect in 2012 which stated that the sales of alcoholic cocktails, beer, beer mixtures and cider whose ethyl alcohol concentration exceeds 7.5 pct. in containers of quantities above a litter are banned. During the afore mentioned time it was also stated that Lithuania will violate one of the most important EU agreements on the free movement of goods. However, sanctions in regards to this matter have yet to be taken against the state.

At the same time, The Minister of Health A. Veryga at that time heading the National Tobacco and Alcohol Control Coalition did not even question that someone will place sanctions on Lithuania following the events in 2012. "I am doubtful whether anyone will and/or should pay such fines, as many try to intimidate us. If formulated that the adjustments may be in violation to EU treaties, that is not an opinion" – stated A. Veryga at the time.

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