From Iceland — Alcohol Bill Submitted

Alcohol Bill Submitted

Published September 12, 2014

Andie Sophia Fontaine
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Grapevine Archives

A bill that would permit the sale of alcohol in private shops has been submitted to parliament, and it is uncertain whether it will fail or become law.

Currently, alcoholic beverages may only be bought from any of the The State Alcohol and Tobacco Company of Iceland (ÁTVR) stores in the country. One man, Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason, hopes to change that.

Vísir reports that Vilhjálmur’s bill, which would make alcohol legal for sale in supermarkets, has been submitted to parliament. However, even he admits that support for the bill is on a knife’s edge.

“I expect that there will be a lot of discussion about [this bill],” he told reporters. “It’s an emotional issue and always has been. It’s controversial even with the Independence Party.”

However, there is considerable multipartisan support. Apart from some Independence Party MPs, other co-sponsors of the bill hail from Bright Future, the Pirate Party and the Progressives. Neither the Left-Greens nor the Social Democrats will support the bill.

The bill is not as simple as legalising alcohol in supermarkets, though. Mobile food units, such as hot dog wagons or soupmobiles, would not be permitted to sell alcohol, nor would temporary booths that sell food, such as at festivals. Furthermore, stores that sell alcohol may only be open between 9:00 and 20:00.

As reported, Vilhjálmur has been optimistic about the bill’s passing for some time now – despite the fact that it has been submitted and killed six times already. The matter is an important one to the MP, though, as he has contended that the high price of alcohol has forced young people to turn to drugs.

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