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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Alcohol Policy Changes and Trends in Adolescent Drinking in Finland from 1981 to 2011

To test if changes in national alcohol policy have had an impact on alcohol use among 12- to 18-year-old adolescents in Finland over a 30-year period.

Frequencies of drinking any amounts of alcohol and drinking alcohol until really drunk from bi-annual repeated cross-sectional surveys from 1981 to 2011 were examined against a national alcohol policy review using nationally representative samples of 12-, 14-, 16- and 18-year-old adolescents (n = 99,724) in Finland.

Twelve-year-olds' alcohol drinking remained rare throughout the period. Drinking among 18-year-olds generally increased throughout the period. Significant increases until the late 1990s and decreases thereafter were observed in 14- and 16-year-olds' drinking patterns. A sharp increase was predicted between 2003 and 2005 as a result of EU-related processes, but instead decrease was observed among 14–16-year-olds. The tests of hypothesized decrease from 2005 to 2011 due to tightening alcohol policy including several tax raises produced mixed results.

Alcohol policy changes between 1981 and 2011 seem not to have had noticeable influence on alcohol drinking or drunkenness among the under-aged in Finland. Conspicuous increases seen in population total consumption in association with EU-related developments have not materialized among adolescents.

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