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Estonian Alcohol Bill

Minister of Health and Labour Jevgeni Ossinovski has proposed changes to the Alcohol Act and Advertising Act reported the Estonian Public Broadcasting on the 26th January.

The government promised to follow up the work that already had begun on how to protect their people, particularly the health of their youth, by toughening up on access to alcohol and restrictions on the sale and advertisement thereof.

The bill's suggests decreasing the open display of alcoholic beverages. "In the future, alcoholic beverages will have to be placed separately from other products and cannot be prominently visible from outside," Ossinovski explained. "This requirement will first and foremost affect stores which place alcohol packaging in their windows or who otherwise display alcohol outside of their sales floor. Once the law goes into effect, these stores must relocate the displays of alcohol elsewhere on their sales floor or for example switch to opaque display cases." The bill will also introduce extra restrictions for stores with a sales floor of over 450 square meters in size; alcohol in these stores will not be permitted to be visible from the rest of the sales floor.

Advertising will be restricted. In the future, ads for alcohol must be sparse in information, focus on the product itself and not present the product in a positive atmosphere. According to the health minister, alcohol advertising may not reference the positive effects of alcohol or the link between consuming alcohol and holidays and events. "Following Finland's example, with the exception of on their own page, alcohol advertising on the part of alcohol distributors will be banned from social media entirely," Ossinovski noted.

Other restrictions include bans on outdoor advertising, television and radio ads for alcohol before 10 p.m. (compared to the previous 9 p.m.) and ads appearing on the front and back covers of supplements included with periodicals. In stores, alcohol tastings and happy hours in which alcohol is sold for cheaper than usual during specific hours will be banned and alcohol may not be sold for cheaper in multipacks than as individual bottles.

The bill will also toughen up requirements for sellers to verify the age of its buyers. Changes to the law will allow for control purchases to be made both to verify the appropriate restriction on the sale of alcohol to minors as well as discover the sale of bootleg alcohol.

The cap on fines for legal persons violating advertising laws will be increased to €50,000. Maximum fines for legal persons violating alcohol laws will also be increased.

Should the bill be passed in the Riigikogu, the law will go fully into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2018.