Twenty-eight Members of the Finnish Parliament, including 15 members of the Centre Party, have issued a joint statement calling for amendments to the bill to reform the alcohol legislation of Finland.
The reform falls under the purview of Juha Rehula (Centre), the Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services.
The issue has been a bone of contention within the Centre Party. Some of its members have proposed that beers with an alcohol content exceeding 3.7 per cent be sold exclusively by Alko, a state-owned alcohol retail monopoly. The reform bill, by contrast, would raise the maximum strength of alcoholic beverages sold at grocery shops from 4.7 to 5.5 per cent.
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The signatories to the joint statement are demanding that additional emphasis be placed on the views of experts who have expressed their opposition to the reform bill.
“Not one of the expert organisations (18), and not one of the social and health care providers and organisations preventing the adverse effects of alcohol use that issued a statement (11) is supportive of the draft bill,” they point out.
The experts, they add, are concerned that that the alcohol industry would reap the benefits of the reform, while the public sector would have to shoulder all of the costs.
“When taking into consideration the increase in the costs of alcohol-related harm, the total impact on the national economy will be negative and closing the sustainability deficit will become increasingly difficult,” the joint statement reads.
The 28 Members of the Parliament underline that they approve of most of the changes set forth in the reform bill, such as rationalising the regulations governing the serving of alcohol.
“Allowing grocery shops to sell canned cocktails and stronger beers would not encourage alcohol consumption in supervised restaurant settings, which, in turn, would not promote employment in the restaurant sector,” they state.
The statement was also signed by three members of the National Coalition, the ruling party that has been the most vocal supporter of the reform.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi