Estonian ministry steps up fight against smoking

Estonia’s Ministry of Social Affairs is seeking opinions on a draft tobacco law which foresees graphic health warnings on cigarette packs and a ban on indoor smoking areas without walls, among other things.

“Tobacco product packages are an influential marketing tool. Graphic warnings will raise smokers’ and above all young people and minors’ awareness that smoking damages health and also motivate them to give it up,” Minister of Health and Labor Rannar Vassiljev explained. “I believe that realistic pictures will diminish everyone’s wish to pick up a cigarette pack. I hope the new approach is also conducive to not starting next to dropping the habit.”

Picture health warnings will be obligatory on packages of cigarettes, smoking tobacco and waterpipe tobacco, spokespeople for the ministry said. So far only warning texts have been used on packages.

The bill also envisions a ban on indoor smoking areas without walls from 2017. Abolition of smoking areas has been recommended also by the World Health Organization. The organization has said there is no such thing as harmless tobacco smoke content in air.

The draft law further proposes to make prisons and their territories smoke-free so as to help inmates kick the habit and protect their and employees’ health.

The bill was sent for consideration to the Justice Ministry, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, Finance Ministry, Health Board, association of tobacco manufacturers and justice chancellor.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Tallinn’s restrictions on hard liquor sale affects 200 stores

Alcohol sale restrictions which, among other things, ban strong alcohol sales in small stores in Tallinn as of July 1 will affect about 200 stores or a third of the total number of stores selling liquor in the Estonian capital city.

According to a spokesperson for the Tallinn Enterprise Board, Aave Jurgen, in October 2014 the number of stores selling alcoholic beverages was 600 in Tallinn and about 200 of these did not have a total area of 150 square meters or more which is needed according to the new law. She added that by today the number may have changed but not by much.

Jurgen said that the city is to definitely exercise supervision.

According to Jurgen the aim of the restriction is to somewhat limit access to hard liquor.

As of July 1 retail sale of alcohol will be banned in shops whose entrance is situated within 50 meters of the main entrance of a basic school, high school or vocational school. It will also be illegal to sell alcohol in buildings situated in the territory of gas stations and alcohol will be sold in specially designated areas at sports events. Where under the present regulation hard liquor can be sold in shops with a total area of at least 75 square meters, as of July 1 the minimum area requirement will be increased to 150 square meters.

Source: Baltic News Service via Estonian Review

Statoil turns to Supreme Court over alcohol sale ban

One of the largest vehicle fuel retailers, Statoil, has asked the Supreme Court for its opinion on Tallinn City Council’s ban on the sale of strong alcohol in filling stations, which is due to come into effect on July 1.

The company said the ban is unconstitutional as it goes against the freedom of enterprise, and previous rulings by the Supreme Court have said such bans are illegal.

Statoil said the ban, due in effect on July 1, should be postponed until the court has come to a conclusion.

The ban, among a number of others to limit the availability of alcohol, is part of the city’s drive against alcohol consumption.

Source: ERR News

Tallinn limits the sale of alcohol

Following the Tallinn City Council’s decision to limit alcohol sale on the city’s territory, approximately 124 will lose the right to sell alcohol, according to the calculations.

These are shops that are located less than 50 meters from the entrance of primary, secondary and vocational schools, or do not satisfy the increased total sales area requirement.

The City Council doubled the minimum size of licensed shops, from 75 to 150 square meters. The restriction aims to limit the number of corner shops in residential areas, which specialize in selling alcohol.

Gas stations have also been banned from selling alcohol in an attempt to decrease the risk of alcohol-related road accidents.

In addition, the sale of alcohol during sporting events has been confined to a restricted area of the venue.

The Deputy Mayor of Tallinn, Merike Martinson, referred to the data released by the National Institute for Health Development, which put alcohol-related deaths in Tallinn at 139. According to a study by Estonian Institute of Economic Research, 83 percent of Estonian population said that alcohol consumption must be cut down and 51 percent polled said it should be done by imposing strict regulations.

“Whereas most of the European countries have four or five outlets that sell alcohol per 100,000 people, this number is 195 in Estonia and 440 in Tallinn,” Martinson said. “The facts indicate alcohol consumption and the resulting accidents have reached a dangerously high level, and something must be done about it.”

The changes will come into effect in July 1.

Source: ERR News

State may regulate taxi tariffs in Tallinn

Parliament is reading the draft act of public transport which would create a possibility for regulating taxi tariffs, writes Eesti Päevaleht.

Under the draft act, local governments would be given the right to establish a maximum permitted tariff for taxis if there are problems in provision of taxi service in their local government.

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Important laws translated into Russian

The Ministry of Justice said it will complete a project to translate 52 of Estonia’s most important laws in Russian by the end of the month.

Andri Maimets, an adviser to the ministry, told uudised.err.ee that the laws will be translated, then edited and checked by legal translators.

The Ministry is also planning to translate a state legal-help website, www.juristaitab.ee, into Russian and begin to offer legal advice in the language.

Estonian laws are currently available in Estonian and English.

Source: Estonian Review via ERR

Lawyer named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’

raidlaThe founder and senior partner of law firm Raidla Lejins & Norcous, Jüri Raidla, has been named ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’, with Merinvest CEO Enn Meri picking up the ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’.

Raidla founded the company in 1993, a year after serving as the Minister of Justice. Raidla Lejins & Norcous has expanded to Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus, employing 120 lawyers and 35 support staff.

Raidla and his company have also received international recognition.

Meri, who owns and leads car part manufacturer Merinvest, returned to Estonia in 1991 and set up a string of manufacturing companies, some of which are still active today.

He said his main factory is in Kuressaare, because he was born there and the staff are more loyal: “The further you are from Tallinn, the more loyal the staff are,” he noted.

Meri said that Estonia has one of the best environments for business in Europe. He recently joined the new Free Party and plans to run for Parliament.

The ceremony, organized by the Ernst & Young Baltic, took place for the seventh time. Brothers Peeter and Priit Rebane won the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award last year.

Source: ERR via Estonian Review

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