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Temperance Activists Warn Against Lifting Open Container Ban

Source: Photo: Postimees/Scanpix

The Temperance Union said a bill aiming to end the ban against public consumption of alcoholic beverages is a move in the wrong direction.

“Lifting such a ban limits the opportunities law enforcement officers have of providing safety, as they would then have to prove that a victim's safety or well-being has been infringed, which is not an easy task,” Lauri Beekmann, head of the union told on Saturday, adding that the bill, if passed, moves in the opposite direction from limiting passive drinking and the perception that alcohol harms society.  

Under current law, alcohol may only be consumed in licensed establishments and events, and in private. Illimar Pärnamäe, head of the ministry's public law division, told ERR radio on Friday that within certain limits, public consumption of light alcoholic drinks will probably again be legal in the future. Drinking spirits and fortified wine in public would, however, still be prohibited.

Schools, public transport, hospitals and events geared at minors will be exceptions. Pärnamäe said if passed, the law will take effect on July 1 of next year.

Beekmann said that alcohol should not be turned into a problem for those who wish to be in public areas sober, adding that it can never be fully guaranteed that alcohol drinkers do not disturb others.

He said that a study conducted in Australia found that 50 percent of damage caused by alcohol is suffered by those who do not drink, ranging from accidents caused by drunk drivers to disturbing the peace.

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