Stronger alcohol sold in Finnish supermarkets

Published 12 June 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Finland is taking alcohol regulation in a “more European direction”, according to its government.

On Monday the new alcohol law came into force in Finland. This means that it is now possible to sell alcoholic beverages of up to 8% in grocery stores.

The alcohol law was already changed in 2018. It allowed restaurateurs to sell alcohol to customers who wanted to take a drink home, and supermarkets to sell drinks with up to 5.5% alcohol. Alko, Finland’s equivalent of systembolaget, was also allowed to stay open longer and organize wine auctions, among other things, the tax-funded Swedish state broadcaster SVT reported at the time.

According to the new alcohol law, which came into effect on Monday, supermarkets are now allowed to sell drinks with an alcohol content of 8%. In practice, the percentage increase applies to products made by fermentation, such as beer and wine. One of the reasons for the increase is to move in a “European direction”.

– The government is now taking a responsible and cautious step and relaxing alcohol regulation in a more European direction. The change is possible because overall alcohol consumption is decreasing, says social security minister Sanni Grahn-Laasonen.

Alcohol researcher critical

However, Thomas Karlsson, an alcohol researcher at Finland’s national institute for health and welfare (THL), is critical of the change in the law, saying that increased access to alcohol often leads to increased consumption.

– At the National Institute for Health and Welfare, we believe that liberalizing alcohol policy by making alcoholic beverages more accessible is not desirable, he told Finnish state broadcaster Yle.

Ahead of the 2018 amendment, Sweden filed a complaint with the EU, saying the law could worsen public health in Finland.

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