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Estonia decreased alcohol taxes by 25%

The civic society as well as policy makers, they need facts, they need figures, they need arguments. So I think it is important to put together figures and data on alcohol use and alcohol related harm in the Nordic and the Baltic countries. Now, you can say that these figures are available. You can look at the report from the OECD, WHO etc.

But figures are not always easy to find and perhaps easily comparable. And we want also an aid to figures, aid to data through this report. What is new and what we have good capacity for in the NordAN, is the capacity to do very nice presentations. So this report will be a mix of data, hard facts but also points of view, policy views from various Nordic and Baltic countries. And we hope that this will make it more lively, more user-friendly.

What we put on this website will, of course, be freely available, so you are welcome to steal, lend, borrow and reuse for your own purpose in your country.


Professor Peter Allebeck, president of Nordic Alcohol and Drug Policy Network (NordAN)

Alcohol consumption levels in Nordic/Baltic countries

Nordic and Baltic region has been an interesting laboratory for everyone interested in alcohol research and policy. With Nordic countries, we have long and effective experience with WHO recommended alcohol policies and with that one of the lowest alcohol consumption and harm rates in Europe. Baltic countries, understanding the different situation they are coming from, has had one of the highest consumption rates in Europe and thus also in the world and has also struggled with introducing actual alcohol strategies. Within the last couple of years, a significant change has taken place and Lithuania and Estonia have adopted new regulations that are now showing the way to rest of Europe.

Lithuania banned alcohol sales at the gas stations, introduced a total ban on alcohol advertising, becoming the first country in the EU to do so, and raised the drinking age limit to 20. Estonia, on the other hand, introduced their own version of French Loi Evin, and raised alcohol taxes so high that Estonia has now highest alcohol taxes in EU if compared the income levels.

Finland, on the other hand, relaxed their alcohol regulation by allowing up to 5.5% alcohol to ordinary grocery stores, going against the counsel of their local as well as international experts.

All of it is mixed with challenges from cross-border trade and constant pressure from different economic operators. Work is ongoing as it has always been so.

One of the main measurements in this field is usually how much an average adult (15+) drinks absolute alcohol in a year. Here are the latest figures from our countries. Please be aware that different countries calculate these numbers differently. Comparing countries is problematic and wiser seems to compare what happens over the years within one country. Find more from different country chapters.