In Finland on 11 February, Juha Rehula, Minister of Family Affairs and Social Services presented his preliminary proposal on an overall revision of Alcohol Act at the meeting of the ministerial working group on promotion of health and wellbeing. The Government aims to update the obsolete alcohol legislation and to submit their proposal to Parliament in the early summer. Minister Rehula commented that the preliminary proposal is trying to find a balance between reducing alcohol-related harm and taking account of business activities.
It is expected that as a result of the legislative changes, Alko's opening hours will be longer and operating conditions for businesses such as restaurants sector will become more liberal. Also the categorisation between all alcoholic beverages (A), wines (B) and class III beer (C) would be abolished when granting licences to serve alcoholic beverages.
With the aim to reduce alcohol-related harm Minister Rehula said there is no reason to change Alko's monopoly status. This means that strong wines or strong beer, for example, will not be sold in retail stores.
The liberation of shop opening hours that came into force in the beginning of this year has raised discussion of convenience stores' hopes to sell alcoholic beverages between 9 pm and 11 pm.
The Government parties will assess the preliminary proposal on an overall reform of the Alcohol Act, and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will continue the drafting of the Act. The aim is to send the draft Act on a consultation round in March. The government proposal on the Alcohol Act is due to be submitted to Parliament in the early summer. The legislation is due to come into force on 1 January 2017.