EHYT urges Estonian politicians to keep focus on public health

As three political parties are planning a new government in Estonia, and possible reduction of alcohol taxes is also on the table, EHYT reminded the party leaders to learn from Finland´s 2004 experience.

“We urge you to study the case of tax cuts in Finland. In 2004 when Estonia joined the EU Finland decided to reduce alcohol taxes by 33%. In the course of one year, per capita consumption grew by 1 litre, and alcohol-related harm increased significantly. Reducing alcohol taxes may reduce cross-border trade, but the population level overall consequences of tax cuts are unpredictable,” stands in the letter.

Estonian Center Party, Party Isamaa and the Estonian Conservative People’s Party are considering lowering alcohol taxes to tackle a growing cross-border trade from Latvia. In 2017 Estonia increased beer taxes by almost 90%. In addition to Estonians going to Latvia, fewer Finns are also coming to Estonia as the price difference is now that much smaller.

EHYT´s Executive Director dr Juha Mikkonen pointed to close cooperation between Estonia and Finland and urged politicians to develop it even further when it comes to cross-border alcohol issues.

“Cross-border alcohol trade is an area where cooperation could be developed even further. It is highly desirable that Latvia increase its alcohol taxes. In such circumstances, Estonia could continue to implement the current excise policy, which is highly beneficial for the overall public health. We wish to point out that as Estonian alcohol policy is affected by Latvian alcohol policy, likewise Finnish alcohol policy is linked to Estonian alcohol policy.

In your coalition agreement we invite you to call for revised EU rules for private import of alcoholic beverages. Member States should be given flexibility to lower the current indicative guide levels for alcohol and set absolute limits. We firmly believe this can be done within the framework of the Single Market, just as it has been done in the cases of excise duty on tobacco and on fuels,” wrote Mikkonen.

Read the full letter HERE