Opinions on Alcohol Policy in Sweden
In the Nordic countries, probably more than anywhere in the world, people’s views on alcohol policy issues have been thoroughly studied and documented. The article focuses on people’s acceptance of public policies, that in a narrow sense, could be in conflict with their own self-interest.
Despite alcohol policy being strictly restrictive in Nordic countries except Denmark and specifically in Sweden, there is popular support for regulating the markets for alcoholic beverages in these countries. This has especially been the case in Sweden. According to a study of the population’s trust in different institutions, the alcohol monopoly Systembolaget has for many years now been the institution Swedes trust the most, surpassing in popularity institutions such as the police force, the higher education system, and even Ikea.
Although not focusing on the alcohol monopoly per se, the article by Karlsson digs deeper into the motives that lie behind this support of the Swedish alcohol policy system.
This article explores the following:
- The complex relationship between public opinion on alcohol policies and the policies, and
- Extends our understanding of why people in the Nordic countries, and Sweden particularly, show such a broad support for a policy which in many other parts of the world would be perceived as highly intrusive.
The results show the following:
- In Sweden alcohol policy is perceived as a societal question in the highest degree whereas alcohol use/abuse is perceived as a social problem.
- It is also considered acceptable by the majority of the population that quite intrusive measures are applied in order to solve the problem.
The study confirms what has been found in previous studies.
- That people’s self-interest does matter, and that people who consume alcohol more are less likely to support restrictive policies.
- Ideological values and norms are far more important in explaining Swedes’ public opinion on alcohol policy.
- There is an overwhelming consensus that the consequences of alcohol for society are mostly negative, although the consequences of alcohol consumption on a personal level would be neutral or even seen as positive by some.
- Solidarity, accurate knowledge and sharp problem analysis explain more than egoism and personal experience.
Finally, as a reassuring result of this study, it seems that alcohol education and information work; if not on a personal level, then at least on a societal level. This is also, the most important take-home message from this article, especially for policy makers and professionals.