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 Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School

nachricht Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier

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: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

Im Focus: Coping with errors in the quantum age

Physicists at ETH Zurich demonstrate how errors that occur during the manipulation of quantum system can be monitored and corrected on the fly

The field of quantum computation has seen tremendous progress in recent years. Bit by bit, quantum devices start to challenge conventional computers, at least...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Epoxy compound gets a graphene bump

14.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal

14.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

How algae and carbon fibers could sustainably reduce the athmospheric carbon dioxide concentration

14.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>