Best of Sweden

The story of the Swedish alcohol monopoly

2018-09-07 11:34 #0 by: Niklas

”Today, Sweden is far from being the most drunken country in Europe. The World Health Organization consistently ranks Sweden’s alcohol consumption favorably compared to other developed countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.”

It hasn't always been like this. Swedes thirst for alcohol once was so considerable that there wasn’t enough of it to produce gunpowder. That was the reason the first ban on distillation for other purposes than gunpowder production was imposed in the 15 century.

The Local has an article on the history of the Swedish alcohol monopoly and Swedes complicated relation with alcohol. It’s an interesting read.

» 'The most drunken country in Europe': Read this and you might like Systembolaget a whole lot better - The Local

(Photo by Michael Mroczek at Unsplash)

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2018-09-08 18:13 #1 by: Leia

Do you agree that there should be limitations on alcohol? 

All the best, Leia

Host of  Gluten-Free Living | News  | English Language Heart

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2018-09-09 07:22 #2 by: Niklas

My general personal view is that people should be given the freedom to decide for themselves how much alcohol they buy.

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2018-09-09 21:35 #3 by: jordan

I found it interesting in the past when reading about the history of Sweden and Alcohol. I think Norway is the same as well?

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2018-09-10 08:33 #4 by: Niklas

You are right. Sweden and Norway (and Finland) have been one country for much of history. That may be one reason why the Nordic countries have alcohol monopolies. I'm not sure though.

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2018-09-11 11:26 #5 by: Evelina

#2 I disagree. I think the alcohol monopoly is a good thing for society. Since I am from the US, where alcohol is widely accessible (once they hit the age of 21), I have seen so many friends and family members whose lives have been destroyed by alcoholism- either by death, DUIs, being alcoholics, hit by drunk drivers, etc. I think that whatever the government can do to limit alcohol consumption is great since alcohol isn't really something that any one person needs. 

I couldn't read the article for some reason. But I  remember watching a documentary about the history of alcohol in Sweden for SFI. One of the theories relating to Swedes and their history with drinking is that since Sweden becomes very dark in the winter months it seems to make the population more vulnerable to depression, and alcoholism. The documentary also said that domestic violence and alcoholism declined after the development of systembolaget. 

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2018-09-11 16:28 #6 by: Niklas

#5: Leia asked about my opinion on alcohol limitation, not alcohol monopoly. My opinion on the monopoly is that it works very well in Sweden. It doesn't limit how much anyone can buy and it keeps the alcohol quality high. The people buying for Systembolaget are very professional and well regarded across the world. They buy huge quantities. The shop clerks at Systembolaget knows a lot about the products they sell. You can always ask what goes well with what or what wines are suitable for storing for many years. Their product range is extensive, and you can have them import products they don't sell for you.

To me, the alcohol monopoly doesn't really limit how much or what I can but. The only thing I can come to think of is that they aren't open on Sundays.

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2018-09-11 22:54 #7 by: jordan

#5 #6 I agree with both points. Limiting consumption is something that could definitely be done in the UK, given the binge drinking culture. Furthermore, the service in general in Systembolagets was always pleasant, with plenty of options and staff that knew their stuff.

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2018-09-12 17:18 #8 by: Evelina

#6 Ahh, ok. I understand. They don’t limit the amount one can buy but for me, I find that the accessibility is restricted. In general, I think that this lower accessibility (due to limited locations and hours) of alcohol is good!

#6 #7 I agree, I think the service at Systembolaget is much more pleasant and professional compared to most places you can buy alcohol in the US, apart from specialty stores.

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