A new bill has been introduced to parliament that, if passed, would abolish the state monopoly on alcohol sales, RÚV reports. This is the fifth time that a bill of this kind has been submitted for parliamentary consideration.
Vice chair of the Reform Party Þorsteinn Víglundsson introduced the bill, which was supported by six other MPs from the Reform, Pirate, and Independence Parties.
With the abolishment of the state monopoly on alcohol sales, private wine and liquor stores would be allowed to operate. However, supermarkets and grocers would still not be permitted to sell alcohol under the terms of the new bill.
The bill also stipulates that alcohol could be advertised within certain limitations. For instance, all such advertisements would have to be accompanied by a warning of the dangers associated with alcohol and ads would not be allowed to target children and/or young people.
The history of Iceland’s state monopoly on alcohol is a rather interesting one and is summarized (in English) on the website of Vínbúðin, the state-run liquor store chain. Back in 1912, Iceland implemented a total ban on the production, consumption, and importation of alcohol under the thinking that “…alcohol consumption was so excessive that it could hinder progress in society.” The ban was partially lifted in 1922, when “an exception was made and Icelandic fishermen could sell Spaniards bacalao for Spanish wines. Import was later permitted if the strength of the alcohol was under 21%. Beer was however still banned.” The first state-run liquor store also opened in 1922; the production of alcoholic beverages was under state control from 1935 – 1992. Today, there are 50 Vínbúð around Iceland, 13 of which are in capital area.