Personal imports of alcohol from Estonia increase
First estimate of imports of Swedish smokeless tobacco
The rise in the taxation of alcoholic beverages appears to have led to a decline in overall consumption of alcohol in Finland in January-April this year.
Although personal imports by travellers increased by eight per cent in the first four months of this year from the same period in 2008, the decrease in retail sales inside Finland was greater than that.
The National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (VALVIRA) published its fresh estimates on traveller imports on Thursday. The figures are based on responses to a questionnaire from more than 9,000 people.
Two-thirds of the alcoholic beverages brought in by Finns were bought in Estonia, or from on-board sales on passenger ships. The increase was most significant in wines, strong cider, and pre-mixed long drinks.
There was only a slight increase in personal imports of beer, and imports of strong spirits were unchanged.
Extra-statistical alcohol consumption - primarily personal imports by travellers - increased already last year, while consumption that is automatically recorded in the official statistics - purchases of alcoholic beverages at retail outlets and restaurants in Finland - decreased over the same period.
The trend was expected after a rise in Finnish taxation on alcohol at the beginning of 2008. Personal imports increased more from the beginning of this year.
The estimated per capita increase in the first four months of 2009 is about two per cent lower than last year, says Lennart Wahlfors, head of data management at VALVIRA.
The figure is an estimate, because official figures on statistical sales for April are not yet complete. The estimate is based on passenger import figures, sales statistics from January through March, and sales at retail outlets of the state-owned Alko liquor stores chain in April.
For the first time, VALVIRA also estimated the amount of imports of snus, a Swedish smokeless tobacco product.
The sale of snus is illegal in all European Union countries except Sweden, but imports for personal use are tolerated.
According to VALVIRA, 1.8 million containers of snus were imported by Finns.
Travellers bringing snus into Finland brought an average 28 containers with each trip.
Personal imports of ordinary tobacco products also increased. Travellers’ imports of cigarettes grew by 16 per cent from last year. Finland’s tax on tobacco increased from the beginning of this year.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish alcohol consumption tops list of Nordic countries (18.5.2009)
Snus by any other name... (6.5.2008)