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FINLAND: Lower booze prices, higher problems

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Lower alcohol prices in Finland are causing an array of problems, a new study has shown. The Finnish Centre for Health Promotion has found that the cheaper prices are taking a toll on Finns' health, increasing the demand for child protection services and requiring more cash from the state to help combat social problems.

"Sicknesses related to alcohol are already a significant risk for the public's health and it is feared that alcohol-related deaths will rise," the Centre said in a statement. "The main reason behind this is growing demand for alcohol and the switch toward drinking stronger spirits."

Following the enlargement of the EU on 1 May, Finland has cut its taxes on alcohol in a move to deter Finns from travelling to neighbouring Estonia and buying alcohol at a fraction of the price paid back home. Prices of strong liquor were reduced by 44%, while taxes on milder alcoholic beverages such as wines were lowered by 10%.

The country has not ruled out increasing the taxes again, following the rise in alcohol-related problems.

The Centre for Health Promotion is sponsored by the Social and Health Ministry.


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