On Wednesday, 4th December 2013, Finnish Parliamentary Social Affairs and Health Committee issued a report to prohibit advertising of mild alcoholic beverages in public places in Finland.
The aim is to reduce the situations where children and youth are exposed to alcohol advertising. The report not only accepts changes proposed by Finnish Government, but also proposes harsher means in changes of § 33 that regulates advertising of alcohol with the use of games, lotteries and contests.
Overall, the proposed changes include:
Ban of outdoor advertising and public events promoting alcohol (with exclusion of international fairs).
Ban on alcohol promotion using drafts, games, lotteries and contests with consumer participation. This is also extended to the User Generated Content in online advertising and social media.
Extension on the limits of TV and radio advertising from existing 21 to 7 to 22 to 7. This is supposed to reflect changes in media usage patterns among youth and children.
Mild alcoholic beverages in Finland are defined as drinks having not less than 1.2 percent by volume of beverages containing ethyl alcohol.
Finnish mild alcoholic beverages category includes:
Beer (olut) which is by far the most common mild alcohol drink in Finland.
Long Drink (lonkero or lonkku) is a Finnish local specialty originating from Helsinki 1952 Olympic Games when barmans invented them as a ready-to-serve option. They are gin based sparkling mixes: the traditionally with grape, but also available with cranberry or lemon juice. Long drinks are slightly more expensive price category than beer with a similar market share.
Ciders that in Finland are sweeter than in many other regions, and are imported novelty that gained popularity in 1990’s.
Finnish regulation of alcoholic beverages marketing from 1995 did not ban advertising of mild alcoholic beverages. According to the government, however, this had an unexpected effect of increased marketing pressure on young adults and teenagers. While it could reduce initiation with spirits, now the mild alcoholic beverages are that who are the entry point for consumption of alcohol, and this initiation happens at earlier age.
Some experts say, however, that alcohol advertising does not affect consumption or abuse of alcohol. Cited by Finnbay.com Barrie Gunter, a professor of Mass Communication and Head of the Department of Media and Communications, University of Leicester, UK disagrees as he explains that the issue is complex and requires an extended research to conclude in his latest book “Alcohol Advertising and Young People’s Drinking: Representation, Reception and Regulation.”
“There is no solid evidence from either scientific research or practical experience that this theory of advertising is correct. A study by the Federal Trade Commission found that there is “no reliable basis to conclude that alcohol advertising significantly affects consumption, let alone abuse.””
said to Finnbay.com Prof. David J. Hanson, Ph.D (Professor Emeritus of Sociology of the State University of New York at Potsdam).
In Finland, alcohol is still one of the leading causes of deaths. In 2011, 1,889 persons died from alcohol-related causes, 1,497 of whom from alcohol-related diseases and 392 from alcohol poisonings. Eighty per cent of those dying from alcohol poisonings were men. Most of those dying were at working age. The number of deaths from alcohol-related causes has been falling since 2009. The fall is mainly caused by decreasing alcohol deaths of men.