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New health chief backs calls for tighter alcohol laws

As the Health Ministry draws up new laws on the sale of alcohol, the new head of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) says he supports further restrictions on the sale of beer and cider.

Juhani Eskola Ylen aamu-tv:n vieraana 15. maaliskuuta 2014.
THL Director Juhani Eskola speaking on Yle's Aamu-TV Image: Yle

The new director of Finland’s National Institute for Health and Welfare, Juhani Eskola, has said he supports re-opening the debate on sales restrictions for alcoholic drinks from shops, kiosks and service stations.

”There is no easy way to limit alcohol use that will win the support of everyone,” Eskola said in an Yle interview on Saturday. “This proposal would be one possible way of making a small yet notable difference to alcohol consumption.”

Eskola cited statistics which claim sales of beer and cider have increased in recent years from corner shops and service stations, but not from Alko stores or restaurants. “That means intervening in this area has the potential to affect overall consumption levels,” Eskola said.

Speaking on Yle 1’s breakfast show Aamu-TV, Eskola said that alcohol consumption in Finland needs to be cut in order to reduce the detrimental knock-on effects. Eskola claimed that adverse effects are directly proportional to levels of alcohol use.

Earlier this week the daily Helsingin Sanomat reported government proposals to further limit the sale of alcohol. Beers, ciders and other comparatively low-strength drinks would no longer be available after 6pm on Friday and Saturday nights from shops, kiosks and service stations. Sales on Sunday mornings would also be restricted.

Under current regulations beer, cider and other drinks with an alcohol content of below 4.7% can be sold between the hours of 9am and 9pm.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health are currently drawing up revised alcohol laws, with a bill expected to be submitted to parliament during the spring.

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