The Finnish government may look at increasing taxes levied on beers and spirits by 10%, said Liisa Hyssala, the country's Health and Social Services Minister.

"We may look at increasing alcohol taxes as a mechanism to control the consumption of alcohol as part of a broader public health policy," said Hyssala today (12 January).

Timo Jaatanen, managing director of Finland's Brewing and Soft Drinks Industry, said any increase in alcohol tax rates would be "resisted", at a time when beer sales are falling and the industry is lobbying to persuade the Government to further reduce taxes on alcohol by another 20% to 30%.

The Finnish government reduced the tax on beer by 32% in March 2004. This action produced an average drop of 15% in beer prices at retail level. The tax cut did impact on VAT rates levied on beer, which remain at 22%.

State taxes have traditionally accounted for around 60% of the retail price of beer in Finland. Following the tax cut, it accounted for 52% of beer prices.