Police Bust Nearly 500 Underaged Drinkers Per Month
As politicians continue to debate the merits of the Centre Party's proposed alcohol advertising ban, police have said that in the first two months of the year they detained 923 minors for drinking.
During the same period, 739 underage teens were busted for smoking and another 307 for possession of tobacco, a statement from the North Prefecture said.
According to Kristel-Liis Kaunismaa, head of the prefecture's prevention service, it is relatively easy for minors to get ahold of alcohol.
"Minors have no shortage of tricks for getting their hands on prohibited drinks, whether they ask older friends to buy, buy with someone else's ID or find a sales point where the seller doesn't check their age. All these methods are prohibited by law and the police are doing everything they can to prevent such incidents," she said in the March 20 statement, which was aimed at calling store managers' attention to the problem.
A study conducted last June by the National Institute for Health Development found that test subjects 18 years of age (the legal drinking age) weren't asked for ID on 71 percent of their alcohol purchases. Supermarkets and alcohol stores were the most likely to turn a blind eye, while gas stations and small stores had the strictest enforcement.
In a separate European Commission study released in December, 70 percent of Estonia's 14- and 15-year-olds surveyed said they had tried alcohol, with 24 percent admitting to drinking regularly, at least twice a month.