Editorial: drunkenness decisively demolished?

Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Urmas Nemvalts

Long is the history of fighting alcohol. Even on pages of Postimees. Writes founder Johann Voldemar Jannsen, in Perno Postimees editorial over 150 years ago: «Estonians should have fewer drunkards among us. I know nothing that has thus damaged the nation, and harmed the well-being of their minds and pocket books as vodka. What a shame if Russians would beat us in their contempt for it!»

No matter the centuries-long battle against alcohol abuse, complete victory is yet to be seen. On the other hand, the worst nightmares of the genetic downfall of drunkard-nations promulgated by teetotallers have also failed to materialise. Blanket bans in USA and Finland backfired by boosting the mafia in America and the moonshiners are with us till today.

In the USSR, anti-alcoholism policy executed by the totalitarian might of Mikhail Gorbachev, objective data showed results. In Estonia, in 1984–1988 consumption of absolute alcohol dropped from 11.6 litres to 6.2 per person a year – by 53 percent. Meanwhile, the effect failed to last long – as the extreme limits were removed, consumption was restores and stands at about the pre-Gorbachev level in Estonia today.

Comparing us with Finland with its stricter policy for decades, the difference is rather small. In Sweden with a system similar to Finnish, they do drink a twenty-some percent less than Estonians and Finns but on global level are above the average by far.

Hard indeed to cut consumption by bans and prohibiting. Broadly, consumption of alcohol is related to culture – both in the good and in the bad sense. No hard and fast governmental examples are found under the sun to rapidly cut drinking – at least when as a society we want to remain free. Nordic examples of alcohol sales in special stores isn’t always yielding explicit results. Limiting accessibility by excise, however, is always linked to the fear of the rise of grey market.

Thus we must keep seeking foe types of limits which would really affect behaviour while swallowed by our culture without excesses and black sales boom. Theoretically, we might try to form an everyday environment where references to alcohol are fewer. The ads bans and visual separation of alcohol counters may play a role, while final victory will probably prove evasive.

On cartoon, cow gets offer for swap of «stuff» as Ossinovski scared love for vodka out of guy depicted.