Vice Squad
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Estonia to Raise Alcohol Taxes

OK, I recognize that if you haven't been following this issue for years, the title of this post does not promise much excitement to follow. And your suspicion, alas, would be correct. But for the interested Vice Squad reader, this BBC News article will prove informative.

The Estonian tax rise will hold repercussions for Finland, which felt compelled to decrease its high alcohol taxes prior to Estonian entry into the EU. The tax rise from Tallinn will probably engender an alcohol tax increase in Finland, too; Finland has seen a significant increase in alcohol-related problems since the tax cut, though perhaps the worst is behind them.

The linked BBC article contains a quote from someone at the Finnish health ministry that employs two frequent Vice Squad tropes, that of alcohol (and vice goods more generally) not being "ordinary" commodities and a comparison with one specific ordinary commodity, ketchup. Warms my heart:

At the Finnish health ministry Ismo Tuominen, in charge of devising new alcohol legislation, says the 2004 tax cut was a mistake - but that Finland is helpless to tackle its growing alcohol consumption.

"EU legislation is at the root of our problems," he says. "They treat alcohol like an ordinary product, like tomato ketchup or milk. They have to allow us to develop a health-based policy on alcohol - so we can limit the now limitless possibilities to bring alcohol in from other EU member states."

These comments are in league with the points recently raised by Dani Rodrik and Vice Squad.

The blog Finland for Thought currently sports a cornucopia of vice-policy-related posts. (First I wrote that the blog "currently hosts" those posts, but I found the rhyme to be troubling.)

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