Latvian beer coins spark controversy

A specially released coin by the Bank of Latvia has sparked an angry riposte from the country's Health Ministry, amidst claims that the novelty currency promotes alcohol in an irresponsible fashion.

The limited edition coins, which are to the value of one Lat (about 1.4 euro), come emblazoned with a frothy flagon if beer.

The bank minted the coins to tie in with the midsummer solstice festival, during which large quantities of beer are traditionally imbibed.

However, the Latvian Health Ministry is not amused.

The coin contradicts our efforts to cut down on the consumption of alcohol in society, the ministry declared.

However, a spokesman from the bank was unapologetic, as quoted in London's Daily Telegraph.

"We might as well ban national traditions and the midsummer solstice itself (according to their logic)," he said. The Healthy Ministry has also objected to a school which tested 18-year-olds on the history of Scotch whisky.

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