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Thu, 22 Aug, 2013 01:48:30 AM
Tax hike, shortening sale hours likely
FTimes-STT Report, August 22
File picture: Photo Lehtikuva
The government, to improve the health of the Finnish citizens, has undertaken a move to bring down alcohol consumption in the country.
The ministry of Social Affairs and Health drafted a memorandum on Wednesday suggesting tight measures including hiking alcohol tax and shortening the alcohol sales hours, ministry sources said.
The memorandum is expected to be placed before the parliament during the spring session next year to revise the existing alcohol law of the country, said sources.
Sensing significant increase of alcoholic products sales in the retail shops, kiosks and service stations during the recent period, the ministry in the memorandum suggested for imposing ban on alcohol sale in the shops on Sunday and other public holidays and shortening the sale hours on Friday and Saturday up to 6:00 pm instead of the existing 9:00 pm.
File picture: Photo Lehtikuva
The memorandum also suggested shortening the sale hours in weekdays from 9:00 pm to 6:00 pm and the timetable to be similarly applicable for the state run Alko shops.
The ministry also recommended that the tax on alcohol should be hiked in every two or three years. Although the government reduced tax on alcohol in 2004, the tax was increased in between 2008 and 2012.
The memorandum also suggested for issuance of notification to stop illegal import of alcohol, particularly from Estonia.
Regarding the alcohol serving time at the bars and restaurants, the memorandum said that the maximum time limit for serving alcohol should be up to 2:30 am instead of the existing 3:30 am.
The memorandum also recommended that alcoholic beverage with more than 3.5 percent alcohol should not be allowed to be displayed on the shelves of the beverage stores and shops.
The ministry expects to narrow down per capita pure alcohol consumption to eight litters by the year 2020 from the existing 9.7 litters through the tougher rules.
The policymakers including the ruling parties’ lawmaker, however, said that enactment of the provision might not be effective without bringing changes in attitudes.
The lawmakers of the National Coalition Party, the main component of the alliance government, Lasse Männistö and  Sanni Grahn-Laasosen in a joint statement said that prohibitions would not work properly as it is difficult to control the people by dictating and commanding, if they do not accept it.
According to the Ministry statistics about 4000 people die every year due to the impact of alcohol and the number should be reduced to 800.
Earlier, on July 22 the Health and Social Services Minister Susanna Huovinen underscored the need for detail discussions to bring amendments in the alcohol law.
File picture: Photo Lehtikuva
Huovinen said the ministry is planning to bring reforms in the alcohol law considering that consumption of alcohol caused huge losses to the society.
The minister at the global health conference, held in Helsinki from June 10 to June 14, also said that the authorities have successfully been able to bring down alcohol consumption in the country by 10 per cent in recent years to reduce harms caused by it.
The minister said they have been able to reduce the use of alcohol through the cooperation of different branches of administration and by increasing tax on alcohol.
The minister claimed that alcohol-related deaths have decreased significantly with the reduction of the alcohol consumption.
She also mentioned the restrictions on the advertisement of alcohol in the social media.