Minister Ossinovski: Alcohol policy should be based on public health

The Estonian Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski points out that the Nordic and Baltic countries should work together, exchange experiences and learn from each on most effective ways to reduce harms related to alcohol use.

At a meeting with the Finnish NGOs minister Ossinovski said:

“Considering the overwhelming scientific agreement that restricting alcohol promotion, limiting its availability and raising the price of alcohol are the most effective measures to reduce consumption, plans to relax the regulation may have adverse effects on public health”. Finland is considering to relax the measures and Estonia is planning to take the opposite track. According to Minister Ossinovski public health should be taken into account when considering alcohol related strategies and measures.

“Public health is one of the most important things to any country. Of course this may not affect business interests in a suitable way , but without a doubt, public health will always be a higher priority,” says minister Ossinovski

“Alcohol also contributes to death and disability – The increase of risky drinking behaviours is a worrying trend as it is associated with higher rates of traffic accidents and violence, to name some. A stricter alcohol policy may have a long term effect on the social norms in society: the next generations will consume less –As an example: progress with tobacco policy as already showed us that smoking is not popular among young people anymore,” says Minister Ossinovski.

The Finnish NGOs warn about the consequences the currents plans of Finnish alcohol legislation may cause.

– In Finland we tend to think that Finland is the only country which strives for less alcohol-related harms. That is far from truth. According to WHO countries have a responsibility for formulating, implementing, monitoring and evaluating public policies to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. Finland should do the same. I congratulate Estonia´s aim to take health effects of alcohol use into consideration in political decision-making, says Mervi Hara, the chairperson of the advocacy committee of the Preventive Substance Abuse Network.

Minister Ossinovski met with the representatives of The Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT ry and the representatives of the Preventive Substance Abuse Network in Helsinki on 9th August. During the meeting current plans of the national alcohol policies were discussed.

Further information:

Executive director Mervi Hara, Finland´s ASH and the chairperson of the advocacy committee of the Preventive Substance Abuse Network p. +358 50 460 2324

Chief of the Coordination Unit Leena Sipinen, Finnish Association for Substance Abuse Prevention EHYT ry tel. 040 557 5057 or leena.sipinen@ehyt.fi