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Finland sees more alcohol-related deaths since sales reform

Studies suggest that typically heavy drinkers have increased their alcohol use more than other consumers.

Following the 2018 reform, mortality linked to alcohol increased in Finland. Image: Markku Ulander / Lehtikuva

Deaths and liver diseases caused by alcohol increased following the reform of the Alcohol Act in 2018, according to a fresh report by the Institute for Health and Welfare THL.

Among other things, the revised law that entered into force in 2018 raised the maximum alcohol content of drinks sold in grocery stores from 4.7 percent to 5.5 percent, and also allowed the sale of mixed drinks made from spirits in grocery stores.

In 2019 and 2020, approximately 160 more people died from alcohol-related illnesses and alcohol poisoning than before the change in the law in 2017. In 2020, the deaths of approximately 1,700 people were attributed to alcohol consumption.

In particular, alcohol-related liver disease deaths in men increased, by 12 percent in 2019 and 22 percent by 2020.

Following the reform, alcohol-related mortality increased at a higher rate than consumption among the general population.

Researchers say this suggests that heavy drinkers in particular have increased their use of alcohol more than other consumers.

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