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Alcohol lobbyists want law changed

January is traditionally a drier month after the Christmas indulgence. Big breweries and retailers, however, want more freedom to tempt abstinent customers into a tipple.

oluttuoppeja terassilla
Image: Yle

Finns looking for a booze bargain could soon be in luck if industry lobbyists get their way. They want to be able to cut prices for a limited period and offer money off for those buying large quantities.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants are currently allowed to hold happy hours, where drinks are discounted for a short time, but not advertise them outdoors.

Some bars sail close to the legal wind on that score, according to watchdogs.

”In the banned ads terms such as ‘eurodisco’, ‘after-work’ or ‘dark’,” noted Kari Kunnas of the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health. Pubs then reduce prices at those times, even posting notices online for customers—against the law.

Short-term discounting is not permitted in shops. Thanks to a 2008 legislative change, stores must sell alcohol at the same price for at least two months, discouraging short-term offers. The dirt-cheap 12-pack of beer is also a thing of the past, as multipack discounts are illegal.

Alcohol restrictions are under attack.
Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

The Federation of the Brewing and Soft Drinks industry's Elina Ussa says that the industry would like similar rules for retailers as for bars.

"Discount periods could be shorter than two months," suggested Ussa.

Store owners claim the change has not helped reduce consumption, as the individual can or bottle price has dropped accordingly.

"When a single bottle costs less than it did before the law came into force, it doesn’t reduce consumption at all," said Jarmo Taruvuori of Kerava Citymarket.

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