Tarmo Noop, the head of one of the two largest breweries in Estonia, said that proposals by Health and Labor Minister Jevgeni Ossinovski are not all bad, despite Ossinovski proposing new strict limits on alcohol availability and advertising.
Ossinovski's ministry has drawn up a bill which seeks to cut down consumption, eliminating happy hours in bars, banning alcohol sales in petrol stations and severely restricting advertising, among other measures. Ossinovski went as far as saying that the industry profits "are killing Estonian people."
“The assertion, by an Estonian minister, who is acting in line with Estonia's own laws and norms, that the alcohol industry makes profits from killing Estonian people is savage, offensive and untrue. One can then also say that it is the state, which is making money from people being killed,” Noop told ETV.
He said the industry must not be sole recipient of blame and consumers must not be freed from any responsibility. Noop said he agrees with the state, that alcohol is a problem, including minors drinking, domestic violence, DUI, among other dimensions.
Jaak Aab, a former Center Party social minister, said the state has had an alcohol policy since the very beginning and similar bills have been passed before. He said three measures limit consumption – price, availability and ads, adding that the state has focused on the first in the past years.
Kadri Kasak, a health expert, said the three measures have been proven to have an impact on underage drinking.
Reform Party MP Valdo Randpere said he does not believe in simple measures, nor does he want to limit personal freedoms. “I do agree that Estonians drink too much. But I believe the road to decreased consumption goes through other measures, not harsh bans,” he added.
“I do not want to say that the alcohol industry, the state, all our people should not be more responsible. We must be! We are not against making current legislation more responsible,” Noop said, adding that alcohol ads depicting alcohol as part of a lifestyle, should be banned.
“I am of the opinion that this should disappear completely. The easiest way for this, and this has also been our proposal, is to remove people from alcohol ads,” Noop said.
Noop is the CEO of A. Le Coq, an Estonian brewery tracing its roots back to 1807. The company is currently owned by Finnish firm Olvi.
Editor: J.M. Laats