Systembolaget, the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly, currently controls the off-premises sale, within Sweden, of all beverages over 3.5% alcohol by volume. The legality of the monopoly has been under scrutiny since Sweden entered the EU in 1995. But dismantling Systembolaget is likely to produce grim consequences. Experts from seven alcohol research centres in Sweden, Finland, Norway, Canada, and the United States considered the effects of two models of privatisation that might one day replace Sweden's monopoly.
In the first scenario, Systembolaget's 400 stores would be replaced by about 800 government-licensed alcohol shops, doubling the number of retail outlets. Compared with Systembolaget's stores, private shops are likely to stay open longer, sell discounted alcohol, sell alcohol to underage drinkers, and use advertising to boost sales, all of which have been shown to increase alcohol consumption. Experts predict that the change to specialty alcohol shops will result in a 17% rise in drinking per person, 770 more deaths per year, 8,500 more assaults, 2,700 more drinking driving offences, and 4.5 million additional days of sick leave.
The second scenario, letting grocery stores sell alcohol, brings even worse consequences. There are currently 8,000 Swedish grocery stores that sell beer with alcohol content below 3.6%. If all of those food stores chose to sell other forms of alcohol, the number of retail outlets in Sweden would increase by a factor of twenty. Like specialty stores, grocery stores would likely involve longer opening hours, lower prices, increased sales to underage drinkers, and promotions and other forms of advertising. In this scenario, experts predict a 37% rise in alcohol consumption, with annual increases of 2,000 alcohol-related deaths, 20,000 assaults, 6,600 drinking driving offences, and a stunning 11 million sick days.
The researchers point out that even though the study was based on the best available evidence, there are considerable confidence intervals involved in this kind of work. Hence, the projections are to be seen as what may plausibly happen, rather than as exact predictions.
Addiction researchers in other nations are watching the situation in Sweden with great interest. According to Professor Thomas Babor at the University of Connecticut (USA), "These findings have implications not only for Sweden, but for all countries where state monopoly systems have been successfully operating since the 1930s. With increasing pressure from the alcohol industry to dismantle or weaken alcohol monopolies in the USA and other countries, it is important to remember the public health benefits of maintaining reasonable controls over the distribution and marketing of alcoholic beverages, and the tremendous risks of removing them."
In the USA, the states of Virginia and Washington are considering ending their state-monopoly sales of spirits at the retail level. Based in part on the model in this paper, co-author Ted Miller estimates that "if either state privatizes its monopoly, spirits sales will rise by 21% and total alcohol consumption by 6%-7%." Miller states that "increased consumption will cause an estimated $50 million per year in harm paid from state coffers (mostly criminal justice costs) and $1 billion per year in total costs. It also will reduce annual state alcohol revenue by $200-300 million."
Norström T., Miller T., Holder H., Österberg E., Ramstedt M., Rossow I., Stockwell T. Potential consequences of replacing a retail alcohol monopoly with a private license system: Results from Sweden. Addiction 2010; 105: DOI: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03091
Jean O'Reilly | EurekAlert!
Win-win strategies for climate and food security
02.10.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
The personality factor: How to foster the sharing of research data
06.09.2017 | ZBW – Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research