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Privatizing Sweden's retail alcohol sales will increase alcohol-related violence and other harms
Date:8/31/2010

alty 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."


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Contact: Jean O'Reilly
jean@addictionjournal.org
Wiley-Blackwell
Source:Eurekalert

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