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New rules will increase taxi fares and restrict smoking this summer

From this July and August, new laws will make it harder to smoke, more expensive to take taxis, but easier for army conscripts can be mobilised. Get the rundown of this summer’s raft of legal changes here.

Sähkötupakka.
From this summer, flavoured tobacco and e-cigarettes will become a thing of the past. Image: Toni Pitkänen / Yle

Family reunification becomes harder

The controversial changes which make it harder for refugees to bring their families over to Finland come into force in July. Recipients of asylum will have to prove a net income of 2,600 euros per month in order to have a spouse and two children join them in Finland. The new income requirement also applies to refugee children who have arrived in Finland without a guardian.

Before Parliament voted on the proposal in June, 17 charities, including the Finnish Red Cross, protested the move, saying it requires a level of income that even most Finnish adults cannot reach.

However the government says the changes are in line with an EU directive, and say that the income requirements can be waived in exceptional circumstances.

Taxis to become more expensive in July

Helsinki’s taxis are already the fifth most expensive in the world, according to a travel survey a few years ago, and the highly regulated business means that cheaper cab options for Finnish consumers are not readily available. As of July, taxi prices will rise again, by 1.2 percent on average. The last time fares went up was 2014.

Conscripts more quickly mobilised

Changes to the law around the way people who are eligible for military service can be called into service will come into effect in July.

Under the current law, reservists must be given three months’ notice if they are to be summoned to attend military exercises. The new legislation will mean that the notice period can be scrapped in cases where the exercise relates to increasing individuals’ military readiness and where Finland’s security landscape demands immediate action.

Tougher home loan criteria

The start of August will see a new cap on home loans, which will make banks only be able to offer loans of up to 90 percent of the value of the property.

For first-time buyers, the loan-to-value can be 95 percent.

Roadside advertising freed up

Mid-August will see the rules relaxed around advertising that can be displayed by the side of roads or railways. Previously, wannabe advertisers had to seek permission, but in future it will suffice just to inform the regional ELY administrative office. Temporary ads for elections, events and so on will not require any permission.

Adverts on buildings or for nearby businesses will be allowed without prior notification, so long as they fit in with the local environment and don’t endanger traffic.

Smoking laws tightened

From mid-August, smoking will get harder, as flavoured cigarettes, rolling tobacco and e-cigarette fluid will be banned. This includes vanilla or menthol. Meanwhile packaging will feature picture warnings as well as text in Finland.

Management companies for blocks of flats will find it easier to stop residents smoking on balconies, and smoking in a car will be illegal if any of the passengers are under 15. High-nicotine e-cigarettes will be subject to the same restrictions as normal tobacco.

Some aspects of the law will have a longer bedding-in period, such as banning smoking on balconies, which will be finalised in early 2017.

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