Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Privatizing Sweden's retail alcohol sales will increase alcohol-related violence and other harms

01.09.2010
A study published today in the scientific journal Addiction argues that privatising Sweden's government monopoly on the sale of alcohol will significantly increase alcohol-related violence and other harms. Depending on the type of privatisation, experts predict that total alcohol consumption in Sweden will increase by 17 - 37%, with thousands more alcohol-related deaths, assaults, and drunk driving offences per year and up to 11 million more days of sick leave.

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!
Further information:
http://www.wiley.com

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Drone vs. truck deliveries: Which create less carbon pollution?
31.05.2017 | University of Washington

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>