Bureaucracy Gets in the Way of Chewing Gum

[WED 29.03.2017; Byrokratia häiritsee purkanjauhamista’, Toni Rasinkangas]


Toni Rasinkangas is puzzled.


It’s a wild feeling to be waiting in line behind a person who is telling their life story while paying for their vast shopping with the smallest coins they find in their household purse.

Meanwhile, I’m holding in my hand a small packet of nicotine gum and a contact-free card that helps me to get on with my day faster.

My brow begins to furrow after the long wait, when the cashier isn’t sure if they are allowed to sell me this specific product at this specific counter.

Why not? Wouldn’t it be wise to move the nicotine gum packets closer to the counter where the product can be sold? It’s not a matter of age in either of our cases.

The rack overloaded with nicotine gum is positioned right next to this counter. In fact, it’s still almost within reach from the cash register.

These questions may gush out of my mouth in a more irritable tone than intended, for who would ever want to go to the back of a mile long line? The one where selling the product is allowed.

The cashier mumbles something about the tobacco law, but finally gets the green light from their colleague to sell the gum.



In the beginning of this year, the supervision of the sale of tobacco and nicotine products came to fall under the municipalities’ responsibility. In Hämeenlinna, the role of big brother is filled by the Environment and Construction Committee.

Municipalities have the right to charge a discretionary fee for this supervision. 500 euros is the maximum, and that’s double the amount it was before.

For the most part, the fee is per one sales outlet individually. The catch is that the fee can be up to 1 000 euros if tobacco and other nicotine products are sold at the same counter.

This means that nicotine products are sold at ever fewer outlets, for the seller has to pay for that right dearly.



The change in trade licensing is still relatively new, so there are bound to be some misconceptions.

What’s more puzzling is the Tobacco Act that gets between me and my gum.

The objective of the Act is to ”end the use of tobacco products and other nicotine-containing products that are toxic to humans and cause addiction”. The President of America would probably call this a fake law.

The use will not end. Not as long as the products are available. And why wouldn’t they be, for there are truckloads of money to be made from them.



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