Thursday, 27 April 2006

Drunk more cost-effectively

When moving here I was stunned to find out that the only place to shopping for your accustomed alcoholic beverages such as wines, strong beers and strong liquor is the Finnish governmentally owned shop “Alko”. They only have the exclusive rights to sell alcohol, and no such things as off-license from a restaurant or a Pub! And nothing stronger than mild beer and ciders are sold in the supermarkets. I have heard that is not until quite recently that the liquor still was rationed and you had to save up your ratios if you had a party coming up!

This is just plain, ordinary Finnish politics, Big Brother watching over the little citizen.

The Alko-shops are quite conveniently open, even on Saturdays so you won’t have to make big plans to get your drinks either and they are usually most conveniently situated in big shopping-centres or in junction with big supermarkets. But one thing that catches the eye though.

About a year ago the government decided to lower the taxes on alcoholic beverages, especially strong liquor. But the prices of wine, beers and ciders were not cut as much as the prices of stronger alcohol like vodka and such, and the consumption of strong liquor has since then increased.

Cheaper prices on strong liquor has resulted in young unaccustomed drinkers and teenagers getting drunk more cost-effectively on the more affordable liquors, with the result of an alarming increase in the amount of teenagers ending up in hospitals because of various intoxication related causes. The youngsters now get too drunk too fast on their vodka to be able to properly handle their level of intoxication.

And here I have to mention that you are not allowed to shop in Alko if not old enough, so another problem is the illegal bootlegging of alcohol to youngsters. Now with EU the tax-free has disappeared and you can bring almost as much alcohol as you like to into the country, so I guess this no longer is such a big issue. Is it?

But still worth a thought.

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