Last Friday the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, signed off on proposed amendments to Finland’s alcohol advertising legislation. Interestingly, one of the new laws to go into effect in 2015 is an unprecedented ban on alcohol branded social media communication.

Starting in 2015, existing regulations (ia prohibition of advertisements for strong alcoholic beverages in public spaces and a time ban for television) will be accompanied by a prohibition on advertising for mild alcoholic beverages with campaigns in which consumers are asked to participate in games, lotteries or contests. In addition to this, content produced or shared by consumers, including social media-type posts, photos, video clips or ads will no longer be allowed in advertising. These restrictions do not apply to citizens’ personal communications.

According to the Finnish government the amendments leading to further restrictions on alcohol marketing were initiated out of concern for children and young people being exposed to such advertising. It bases this concern on various scientific studies suggesting that alcohol advertising may encourage early alcohol use and increased or binge drinking among young people.

In October 2013 EUCAM organized an online conference dedicated to the subject of online alcohol marketing. For this occasion one of the people who has worked on drafting the current amendments, Ismo Tuominen, prepared a presentation describing the new ban on social media alcohol marketing. According to Tuominen, when trying to protect children from exposure to alcohol marketing, the best way to go is to implement legislative regulations such as those in France, where only product information is allowed. Since this is currently politically impossible in Finland, the second best option, says Tuominen, is to crack down on the most harmful forms of alcohol marketing with strong regulations such as these. Tuominen concludes his presentation, admitting that national laws are not the ideal tools to regulate a global medium as the internet. However, he voices his strong hopes that this first of a kind law, by one country will lead to EU harmonization of regulations, just like it did with Tobacco.

The presentation is available from the top right corner of this article.

Source: YLE.FI 02/27/14

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