Estonia: Alcohol Use Hits 10 Year Low
Consumption of alcohol in Estonia has decreased to the lowest level seen in a decade, reports an analysis entitled “Estonia’s alcohol market, consumption and policy in 2018.”
The report was commissioned by the Ministry of Social Affairs and conducted by the Estonian Institute of Economic Research.
Last year, Estonian residents consumed an average of 10.1 liters of pure alcohol per capita. This is the lowest reported level of alcohol consumption over the last decade.
Converted into liters of absolute alcohol, this 10.1 liters included 64% low-alcohol by volume (ABV) beverages. Consumption by category included:
- 4.1 liters in beer and other low-ABV beverages
- 1.8 liters in grape wine
- 0.6 liters in other light alcoholic beverages.
- 3.6 liters in liquor, including 2.3 liters of vodka.
Cross-border issues are apparent
Alcohol purchased abroad totaled a converted 3.3 liters of absolute alcohol per adult in 2018, including both alcohol consumed as well as alcohol stocked. 35% of adult respondents had purchased alcohol in Latvia. 14% of these people traveled across the border specifically for that purpose alone.
59% of respondents indicated that they think alcohol use levels remain too high in Estonia. According to the respondents the most severe alcohol-related problems in Estonia are:
- Driving while intoxicated (92%),
- Domestic violence (84%) and h
- Health problems (83%).
Consumption volumes cited in the study are based on data published by Statistics Estonia and Eurostat on foreign trade, industrial production as well as sales data from domestic and foreign markets.
Threat to hard-won progress
While the progress of 2018 is significant a threat to this achievement is looming over Estonia. The country achieved this progress in 2018 on reducing alcohol harm through the implementation of evidence-based alcohol control policy, including raising alcohol taxes. Unfortunately the new Estonian government has decided to slash the alcohol tax by 25%.
Estonia suffered from significant alcohol harm and as this report suggests was just showing signs of improvements. Sadly the significant progress reported in 2018 will possibly be jeopardized by cutting alcohol taxes.