More details have emerged regarding the Social Affairs Ministry's vision of a national alcohol policy, painting a picture of a sharp change of course toward increased restrictions.
Among the proposed changes, alcohol would only be available in cordoned-off areas of supermarkets or at a special staffed counter. The drinking age for spirits could be raised from 18 to 21. And June 1 and September 1 could be declared alcohol-free days when sales would be restricted and public awareness campaigns counsel people not to imbibe.
Although the principles have yet to undergo a public comment period, Cabinet level review and parliamentary procedure, the working groups are pushing hard for an end to the currently relatively lenient rules. The basis is the government's operational program for 2011-2015.
Alcohol rules are one of the major areas where Estonia has a distinctively Baltic profile rather than trending toward Nordic societies, which generally have strict rules on the sale and consumption of alcohol, if not outright state retail monopolies.
In 2002, alcohol sales in street kiosks were abolished. In 2005, sales hours were restricted to 10:00 to 22:00 nationwide.
As far as tobacco policy is concerned, the ministry working group wants designated smoking areas scrapped, with all state and local government buildings becoming completely smoke-free. Cigarette packages would no longer be on public display at points of sale.