An Independence Party MP planning to submit a bill that would permit the sale of alcohol in private shops is confident it will become law.
RÚV reports that Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason will submit a bill this autumn that would permit the sale of alcoholic beverages in privately-owned shops, with some limits. For example, alcohol would only be permitted for sale in a cordoned area of the store, and its sale would not be permitted after 20:00.
While it is uncertain if the bill in question will pass, Vilhjálmur is confident that public support is on his side.
“Based on the reaction I’ve received from members of parliament and the general public, I have every reason to believe that we will reach an agreement on this,” he told reporters. “I just get the strong impression that the time of the state-run monopoly [ÁTVR] is passed, that people want to bring this products into stores as regular items for sale, and I consider it important to create a balance between the countryside and the capital area regarding this service.”
Vilhjálmur also believes the law would be a boon to Icelandic microbrewers to compete with larger alcohol producers.
While his critics, he says, have argued that increased access to alcohol will lead to increased drinking, Vilhjálmur pointed to recent research that when young people have less access to alcohol, they actually end up drinking more. He adds furthermore that privately-sold alcohol and a campaign of education and prevention of alcohol abuse are not mutually exclusive.
The proposal to privatise the sale of alcoholic beverages has been introduced to parliament before, with little success. How the current bill will fare will come to light after parliament reconvenes this autumn.
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