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Dispute over night-time prohibition in Warsaw

Dispute over night-time prohibition in Warsaw

Image source: © Press Release
Marta Grzeszczuk,
29.02.2024 14:00

The candidate running for mayor in Warsaw has announced plans to ban alcohol sales at night in the city. Who is against this proposal?

Magdalena Biejat, the Deputy Speaker of the Senate and a candidate for the Warsaw mayoralty from the Left and urban grassroots movements, recently gave an interview to the Polish Press Agency. During the interview, she expressed her support for banning the sale of alcohol during the night in Warsaw, citing its success in other cities. This "night-time prohibition" is already in effect in over 150 municipalities, including Poznań, Krakow, Wrocław, and Katowice. The politician's statement has caused a stir in both traditional and social media.

Ban on alcohol sales at night has many opponents

Marek Tatala's response to Jan Śpiewak's post gained much attention on X. Śpiewak is an advocate for systemic solutions to alcohol prevention. He shared that Magda Biejat supported a ban on night-time alcohol sales and expressed his appreciation for her stance by saying, "Bravo, Magda Biejat!".

However, the president of the Foundation for Economic Freedom, Marek Tatala, holds a different view on the matter. In a comment on Śpiewak's post, he stated that under the model proposed by candidate Magda Biejat, buying alcohol after 10:10 p.m. would require a trip outside of Warsaw. He argued that the city should take responsibility for dealing with any disorderly conduct caused by alcohol consumption instead of implementing a collective punishment.

Tatala's post generated many views and comments but received relatively few likes. Most commenters pointed out that similar bans on night-time alcohol sales have already been successfully implemented in many places across Poland. One user stated, "In Sosnowiec, Katowice, and other surrounding cities, prohibition is in place, and we are doing fine. There are no disturbances caused by people drinking alcohol in public places anymore."

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Who needs access to alcohol after 10 pm?

"If at 10.10 pm you're so high on alcohol that you have to go to another town to buy it, that's the least of your problems," wrote another X user. Tatala’s response? "I'm no longer a student; I have my own stock. But you can also go out to the pub or order delivery. I will not join Ms Biejat in making life difficult for young people who like to party. Instead of fighting pathologies, she proposes collective responsibility [...]," he wrote.

This is not the first time Tatala has defended unrestricted access to alcohol. In 2017, he won a case in the District Court in Warsaw over drinking alcohol in public places. He argued that drinking on the Vistula boulevards, for which he refused to accept a ticket from the police, was not prohibited. The court agreed with him that drinking is not prohibited in all public places, as the law explicitly mentions streets, parks or squares.

According to a recent report by market research centre NielsenIQ, alcohol is one of the top two items that Polish women and men will spend the most on in 2023. Poles spent as much as PLN 39.6 billion on beer and vodka. In comparison, spending on fizzy drinks was PLN 7.6 billion, and on bottled water was PLN 6.9 billion.

Trzaskowski announces public consultations on night-time prohibition

The current mayor of Warsaw, Rafał Trzaskowski, announced consultations regarding a potential ban on night-time alcohol sales in the city. Although he does not favour the idea, he wants to know what the Varsovians think about it. According to the DGP portal, there are more alcohol shops in Warsaw alone than in the entire country of Sweden.

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In response to Trzaskowski's announcement, writer Jakub Żulczyk joined the discussion on X, stating that the biggest problem with such a ban would be that people may drive to the city of Piaseczno. Trzaskowski had made a similar argument in an interview with Radio Zet, suggesting that a ban in Warsaw could cause the problem to shift to neighbouring municipalities.

Żulczyk also referenced a summary of alcohol-related facts compiled by psychologist Paweł Górniak. According to the infographic he attached to the post, approximately 1 million people in Poland are struggling with alcohol addiction, and this number is on the rise. It’s important to note that these estimates specifically pertain to individuals who have sought treatment.

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However, experts from the State Agency for Solving Alcohol Problems, as reported by dgp.pl, assert that the actual number of people in Poland who engage in harmful and problematic drinking habits is at least 3 million. This widespread addiction not only affects the individuals themselves but also has a negative impact on the lives of their relatives.

Source: dgp.pl, radiozet.pl

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