Minister of Justice Áslaug Arna Sigurbjörnsdóttir wants to legalize ads for alcohol, saying banning them isn’t working and discriminates against Icelandic producers. RÚV reports that a parliamentary bill is currently being drafted which, if passed, would make alcohol advertisements legal in Iceland.
Áslaug Arna has recently presented a draft bill to Alþingi which would allow for Iceland’s state-run liquor stores to sell alcohol online. It is currently legal for Icelanders to buy alcohol from foreign companies and have it shipped to their homes (subject to import duties), but they must go in-person to purchase alcohol sold in Iceland.
The minister asserts that allowing Icelandic alcohol producers to start advertising would give them an equal footing with their foreign counterparts. “There are, of course, alcohol ads everywhere today—when we’re watching foreign sports on TV, browsing foreign magazines, or on all these social media sites today. So the ban isn’t working.”
A survey prepared for the Minister of Education on the business environment in media also proposed that the current ban on alcohol advertising in Iceland be overturned.
Ólafur Stephensen, CEO of the Icelandic Federation of Trade, says that the same reasoning that applies to allowing the sale of alcohol online in Iceland applies to this issue. Icelandic businesses have, he affirms, agreed to abide by very strict regulations, should the ban be overturned.
Unsurprisingly, however, not everyone is in favour of the proposed change. Árni Guðmundsson, the chair of the Parental Association Against Alcohol Advertising, says that children’s right to not encounter alcohol propaganda is more important than business considerations. He says that alcohol advertising is aimed at children and teens and that just because alcohol advertisements come into Iceland from other places, that’s no reason to relax public health and prevention criteria.
Áslaug Arna argues however that since the ban isn’t working, it would make more sense to set specific regulations on advertising.