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Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

A boy on the verge of 18 went to Alko and tried to buy a drink of blackcurrants and bubbles in a bottle resembling fizz.

The cashier refused.

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Later, a customer wondered why Alko refused to sell to the boy at their Facebook page.

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“From the selection of non-alcoholic beverages we only sell sodas to the minors,” said Alko.

“We are not even allowed to sell totally non-alcoholic drinks in a package that resembles an alcoholic drink, such as fizz, wine and beer (0% of alcohol). This is a joint decision in the trade.”

According to Alko, the decision is not based on the law but on its self-regulation. Alko has taken a tight line in the matter.

Erkki Pakola, the local chief of Alko’s Turku region and one of the people behind developing Alko’s self-regulation, said that the principle is affected by Alko living under the magnifying glass of the public.

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According to Pakola, one of the roles of Alko is trying to prevent the minors from drinking alcohol. Alko doesn’t want to create a situation where the underaged would be swarming in their stores.

“The parents wouldn’t’ like it either,” he said.

One of the customers at Alko’s Facebook page wondered what would happen if he bought the bubbly blackcurrant drink and then handed it out to a minor at the very presence of the cashier.

“Alko doesn’t restrict selling non-alcoholic beverages to an adult based on a suspicion that the person might hand the bottle to a minor. The Alcohol Act doesn’t fully take a stand on dealing non-alcoholic drinks to the underaged,” Alko replied.