The influence of economic interests on alcohol control policy: a case study from Finland
Finland's participation in the European Union has meant that Finnish markets have been opened to international competition and that the traditional alcohol policy decision-making that revolved around Alko, the state alcohol monopoly company, has become impossible. The influence of private commercial interests increased in the 1990s but not in a straightforward manner. They had their biggest influence in the mid-1990s when the 1994 Alcohol Act was drafted and accepted. After that the influence of commercial interests has declined, and nowadays the alcohol question is again discussed in terms of public health and safety and drinking among young people. Integration did not lead to the expected deregulation of alcohol control but to new forms of regulation, where EU authorities such as the Commission and the EU Court also play an important role. Alcohol policy-making is now more transparent, and free trade and competition without interference are much more stressed than previously. These are the new frames of public intervention in the alcohol question, both in the trade of alcoholic beverages and in the taking care of individuals harmed by the use of alcohol.
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