Finnish working group rejects alcohol policy tightening

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Alcoholic beverage, Alcoholism, Drinking culture

The Finnish government has advocated not tightening alcohol regulations any further despite well documented abuse problems in the country.

Figures released by the state statistics agency in Finland in 2006 suggested that alcohol killed more people aged 15 to 64 in the country than heart disease or cancer. Since then the Finnish authorities have sought to clamp down on excessive drinking by reversing previous tax reductions.

However the government working group on alcohol advertising in Finland has stopped short of recommending any further tightening of the Alcohol Act.

Finland already has some of the strictest rules on alcohol sale and promotion. The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry Federation in Finland said only Sweden and France regulate alcohol advertising more stringently.

“Rational conclusion”

The beverage trade body welcomed news of the recommendation not to tighten the rules further – calling it as “a rational conclusion that is in line with European practices.”

Tero Kallio, managing director of the Federation identified the alcohol problem in Finland as being related not the overall amount people drink, but the binge drinking culture. The industry representative pointed to total consumption figures that are on a par with other European countries while alcohol-related harm figures are higher.

Education

Kallio therefore recommended that: “Instead of prohibiting the advertising of mild alcoholic beverages, we should step up long-term education on responsible consumption.”​ The ongoing “Drunk, You’re a Fool” campaign that the Federation has run for the past two years was cited as a good example of what form this education should take.

He added that more advertising restrictions could be counter productive, creating more pressure for intense price competition.

“If alcohol advertising were restricted, Finnish players would only be able to compete against foreign brands with their product pricing. Further intensifying price competition in the alcohol market would hardly serve anyone’s interests,”​ said Kallio.

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