Estonia: Alcohol Policy Improvements on the Table
Riigikogu, the Estonian Parliament, is welcoming improvements to alcohol control policy within the country.
Tõnis Mölder, Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, said that he welcomes the initiative of Tallinn Mayor, Mihhail Kõlvart to introduce an improved alcohol policy in the capital city. He added the implementation of improved alcohol regulations could be deliberated on a nationwide basis.
On September 18, 2019 Mayor Kõlvart proposed launching talks in Tallinn regarding the possibility of implementing better alcohol policy in Estonia’s capital. These would include:
- Time-specific restrictions on the sale of alcohol at entertainment establishments, and
- Restrictions on the location of alcohol stores in relation to childcare institutions.
According to the mayor, these improvements are needed to better ensure public safety and protect the health of the city’s residents.
Currently, Estonia operates an overnight alcohol retail sale. While acknowledging the issue of alcohol availability is an urgent problem in the capital, considering the large number of entertainment businesses, Chairman Mölder added that the debate about better regulating alcohol sales could extend further. He explained that the goal of the availability regulations is not to make life difficult for entertainment establishments, but rather to maintain reasonable standards.
The Chairman also affirmed his support for the idea suggested in Tallinn to ban the operation of alcohol stores less than 150 meters away from childcare institutions.
I am certain that all parents are fully in favor of the idea that alcohol stores should move further away from schools and kindergartens,” said Tõnis Mölder, Chairman of the Social Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu, as per ERR News.
This is good news for Estonia after the recent alcohol tax cuts which severely undermined alcohol control policy in the country and led to a tax race to the bottom in the region.
Alcohol burden in Estonia
Estonia’s alcohol per capita consumption is significantly above the WHO European region average at 11.8 litres. Youth binge alcohol use is staggering with 70.6% of the alcohol using youth engaging in this behavior. Harm from alcohol in Estonia is evident as the country is placed on the highest end for years of life lost due to alcohol.
Proposed alcohol policy improvement are a positive step by the City of Tallin and the Estonian Riigikogu to prevent and reduce alcohol harm. If they are implemented nation-wide beyond the capital city it would help alleviate the alcohol burden on Estonian society.