Alcohol producers and importers have demanded that Health and Labor Minister Jevgeni Ossinovski retract from a comment on the social media, where the minister says the alcohol industry is profiting from "murdering Estonian people."
“We demand that the false words on the social media, which imply the alcohol sector is in the business of murdering Estonian people and making a profit from it, be openly retracted,” representatives of alcohol producers and importers said, in a statement today.
Ossinovski said last week the industry has mobilized private television channels, retail chains, the food industry and petrol chains over a proposed plan to limit the sale and advertisement of alcohol. He added that he is not in war against alcohol, but for a healthier and less violent Estonian society.
“I understand alcohol producers for standing up for their interests, but I am sure the financial interests of alcohol producers do not weigh up the health of Estonian people. A sector, which earns profit from murdering Estonian people, must also understand this,” he said.
Alcohol producers and importers say the industry is like any other food industry sector, producing and marketing products, adding that if the problem is overconsumption, leading to health problems, then the right step is to promote responsible drinking, not label honest companies, and thousands of honest workers in the industry, as killers of Estonian people, the sector said.
CEO of Remedia distillers, Vladimir Feldman, said the sector brings in around half a billion euros annually to state coffers and the majority of the sector's profits go to the state.
He said claims that the sector is trying to earn enormous profits is unfounded as it is the state, which makes the most money from it, adding that the price of alcohol to consumers is more dependent on high taxes than producers.
He said a cheap bottle of vodka costs 50 cents to produce, but the state adds on 3.80 euros in excise tax, plus 20 percent VAT and one bottle costs six euros in the stores.
Ossinovski-led ministry introduced a bill a week ago, which, if passed, would severely toughen regulations on alcohol ads and ban sales in petrol stations, among other measures.
Editor: J.M. Laats