Iceland‘s monopoly on alcohol still for debate

A bill lies for Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, on scrapping the state’s monopoly on the retail sale of alcohol. This is the third time an ‘alcohol bill’ – as the draft legislative act seeking to deregulate the retail sale of alcohol in Iceland is commonly known, has been put before Alþingi.

Every time this issue is raised a great, long discussion starts in Iceland. The congressmen and women behind this bill are hoping that third time’s the charm, but recent polls reveal that the majority of Icelanders are against it.

The most common reasons for opposing are fear of increased consumption, fear of less variety of products and less service in availability in urban areas, and so on. Doctors and health organizations such as Krabbameinsfélag Íslands, The Icelandic Cancer Association have critiqued the bill, pointing out that increased consumption means increased risk to people’s health.

The bill also affects tourists travelling to Iceland, as many don’t know about the state’s monopoly and buy copious amount of alcohol free beer in supermarkets, not realizing alcohol is only sold in the state run Vínbúð.


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