Hello 2018. Stronger beer in stores across Finland, starting now

A man passes a shelf of beers on sale in a supermarket in Helsinki, Finland. (Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/Reuters)
Several new rules regarding the sale of alcohol come into effect in Finland on 1 January 2018. One change makes stronger class IV beers and ciders available in shops.

The Finnish Parliament voted in favour of several changes to Finland’s alcohol legislation mid-December, and President Sauli Niinistö signed off on the new law on last week.

One of the most noted amendments to the country’s traditionally stringent alcohol policies is to allow stronger drinks – with alcohol content up to 5.5 percent – to be sold in groceries, convenience shops and petrol stations. Up from the previous limit of 4.7, this means that class IV beers, stronger ciders and so-called alcopops will now be available at other outlets apart from the state-owned alcohol monopoly, Alko.

According to health authority Valvira’s guidelines, manufacturers and wholesalers of alcohol products were able to begin supplying the stiffer alcoholic beverages to shops as soon as the President had signed off on the deal, but the products weren’t available for sale until 1 January 2018.

Sinebrychoff Brewery, one of Finland’s largest alcohol producers and the name behind the popular beer brands Koff and Karhu, has had crates of class IV beers at the waiting, and stores have been working overtime to prepare for the rollout.

The New Year will also see a 100-million-euro hike in the alcohol tax. (Pexels)
Higher taxes also in store

The New Year also saw a 100-million-euro hike in the alcohol tax. Designed to reduce consumption, the higher tax most affects the prices of beers, ciders and wines.

Craft breweries are also allowed for the first time to apply for permission to sell to retailers from their regional government office, and sell products with less than 12 percent alcohol content directly to their customers.

Alko retail outlets will stay open until 9 pm and, starting in March, restaurants adn bars will only have to file an announcement to continue serving until 4 am. They can then stay open for an hour after that, too, until 5 am.

Related stories from around the North:

CanadaMental health in Canada – Can community programs in Arctic Canada make the difference?, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland’s alcohol consumption declines by 15%, Yle News

Sweden:  County in Sweden’s North has best mental health in country, Radio Sweden

United States:  Alaska city awash in alcohol even without legal sales, Alaska Dispatch News

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