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Pelkonen slams Finland's alcohol laws

Jaana Pelkonen (NCP) has published a list of what she believes are urgently-needed changes in the alcohol legislation of Finland.

She proposes that temporary serving licences be abolished as part of a transition from premises-specific to holder-specific licences. “We should gradually de-regulate the opening hours of restaurants, […] modernise the alcohol legislation – eradicate the so-called double prohibition and two-glass rule,” she writes in her blog.

Pelkonen is also prepared to grant microbreweries the right to retail their products and restaurants the right to sell alcoholic beverages to go. “We should raise the maximum alcohol percentage of beverages sold in grocery shops from 4.7 to 15 per cent and, consequently, permit the sale of wines in grocery shops – where other grocery items are also sold,” she states.

The prevalent regulative and prohibitive approach to alcohol policy-making, she believes, has come to the end of its road.

“We have already paid an excessive price for that in jobs and lost tax revenues. Absurd taxes and regulations have driven up the costs of domestic beverage manufacturers, retailers and especially restaurants, and created an impossible operational environment. The subsequent financial incentives encourage people to drink alcohol bought from abroad on their home sofas,” she writes.

An overhaul of the alcohol legislation is currently on the drawing board. The alcohol legislation is also a focal point of the efforts of the Government of Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) to tear down unnecessary regulations.

“The field of alcohol policy is precisely where you will find a slew of regulations, statutes, bans and temporary licences in need of a thorough overhaul. We lawmakers have the unique opportunity to be broad-minded and make smart decisions,” Pelkonen says.

She does not hold back in her criticism of the current alcohol policy.

“Health concerns have taken precedence in alcohol policy-making over the past decades to the extent that the world around us has been forgotten. Some of the efforts to tighten regulations or uphold mindless norms have been justified with health-related arguments. It is a whole other question whether the norms and regulations have had the claimed health effects.”

“The unintended consequences have been forgotten, ignored or at least undermined. What has taken precedence is not health but theoretical generalisations about public health that are detached from reality.”

“The patronising mentality is no longer in touch with the times,” she slams.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi