In an ambitious and far reaching law proposal, Estonia’s Health Minister Jevgeni Ossinovski proposes to ban outdoor advertising for alcohol and severely restrict the content of alcohol ads on internet and TV. These advertising restrictions are part of a larger set of measures aiming to reduce alcohol consumption.
“Previous measures have not been sufficient. Therefore we have decided to significantly step up restrictions on both alcohol advertising and accessibility of alcoholic drinks,” said Minister Ossinovski when he presented his plans. “We know from statistics and research that consumption of alcohol can be reduced by raising the price and restricting advertising and accessibility,” said Ossinovski. “Different measures including increasing the excise duty on alcohol have been used, but alcohol consumption in Estonia has practically not declined from 2009 to the present day.”
If the bill is approved by Parliament, only black-and-white static images would be allowed in TV and internet commercials. Only product information and a health warning could be read out without any musical accompaniment. Outdoor advertising of alcohol would also be banned.
The proposed plan also features a ban of “happy hours” in establishments where alcohol is served; as well as banning the sale of alcohol at gas stations from 2017.
Furthermore, by 2018 alcohol sales alongside with other food goods will be banned. Consequently, supermarkets have to set up separate alcohol departments. The barrier between alcohol and non-alcoholic groceries must be non-transparent and smaller shops have to place alcohol on a separate counter behind the sales person.
The amendment would also introduce the possibility of mystery shopping for the purpose of monitoring compliance with the ban on selling alcohol to underage individuals and for identifying the sale of illegal alcohol.
Comments by EUCAM:
Interestingly enough this plan shows many resemblances with the French Evin law. Only in France, it’s the TV ads that are banned and the outdoor ads that are allowed when complying with strict content regulations. The French restrictions are widely considered some of the most effective alcohol advertising regulations in Europe. EUCAM congratulates Minister Ossinovski on his dedication to tackling alcohol harms in his country and showing leadership in his approach. We will be keeping a close eye on the further developments in Estonia pertaining to this bill.