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Estonian Government approves stricter alcohol policy

Jevgeni Ossinovski, Minister of Health and Labour
Jevgeni Ossinovski, Minister of Health and Labour

At today’s sitting, the Government of Estonia approved the draft introduced by Jevgeni Ossinovski, Minister of Health and Labour, and sent it to the Parliament of Estonia.

Jevgeni Ossinovski, Minister of Health and Labour, praised the coalition partners for being cooperative and constructive. “When this coalition was born, we promised to finish the discussion – which was already started during the previous government – on how to protect our nation and most importantly, the health of our youth by implementing stricter restrictions on alcohol availability and its sale and advertisement,” said the Minister. He assured that the public discussion that has accompanied the draft has had a positive effect. It has already changed people’s attitudes towards the display and availability of alcohol and made people seriously consider reducing their alcohol consumption.

The last amendments to the draft have to do with requirements for stores in order to significantly reduce the public display of alcoholic products. From now on, alcoholic beverages must be placed separately from other products and cannot be visible from outside of the store. “This requirement chiefly applies to stores that place alcohol packaging on display windows or display alcohol outside of the sales area in some other way. If the legislation entered into force, these shops would have to change where they display alcohol in the sales area or install an opaque wall,” said Ossinovski.

In addition, the draft sets limitations to shops with sales areas larger than 450 m². Alcohol cannot even be seen from the rest of the sales area in these stores. If alcoholic beverages can be seen from the sales area, these stores must declare the size of the sales area in the Register of Economic Activities in order to facilitate the supervision conducted by the Consumer Protection Board.

From now on, alcohol advertisement must contain minimum information, focus on the product, and be presented without describing a positive atmosphere.

Any references to alcohol’s positive effects, as well as to a connection between alcohol consumption and holidays are forbidden. Alcohol advertisement done by alcohol operators will be prohibited from social media, except on their own websites.

The draft prohibits outdoor alcohol advertising and moves the time restrictions on radio and television from the previous 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Alcohol advertisements cannot be displayed on the front or back covers of newspapers or magazines or their special editions. 

Alcohol tastings in stores and happy hour, or the opportunity to offer alcohol cheaper than usual at a certain time, will be prohibited. Furthermore, alcohol multi-packs cannot be cheaper than when buying separate drinks.

The draft implements stricter requirements for salespersons to determine the age of alcoholic beverage buyers. The amendment allows test purchases to check if salespersons comply with the sales prohibition of selling alcohol to minors and to identify the sale of illegal alcohol.

For legal entities, the upper limit of the fine for failing to comply with the Advertising Act will be 50,000 euros. The upper limits of the fines will also be raised in the Alcohol Act.

If the draft is approved by Riigikogu, it will enter into force on 1 January 2018.


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