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Bill To Legalise Alcohol Sales In Icelandic Shops: Fifth Time’s The Charm?

Bill To Legalise Alcohol Sales In Icelandic Shops: Fifth Time’s The Charm?

Andie Fontaine
Words by
Photos by
Davíð Roach

Published September 25, 2018

Þorsteinn Víglundsson, the vice chair of the Reform Party, has submitted a bill to Parliament that, if passed, would legalise the sale of alcohol in private shops, RÚV reports. The bill has the support of six other MPs from the Reform Party, the Pirate Party and the Independence Party. A similar bill has been submitted four times before and ended in failure.

The main goal of the bill is to lift the state monopoly on the sale of alcohol, currently only conducted through state-run alcohol stores. It would limit private alcohol sales to specialty food and drink shops, while leaving it off the shelves of larger grocery store chains, and would also permit the advertising of alcohol in a limited capacity.

If you are getting a weird sense of déjà vu right now, there’s a good reason for that. This bill was also submitted last year—and the year before that, and the year before that, and, well, you get the picture.

While Iceland does have a vibrant drinking culture, it also has fairly strict laws on alcohol. Beer was only legalised in 1989, for example. Alcohol is heavily taxed, only sold in government-run shops, and advertising of alcohol is expressly forbidden.

This new bill, while having the support of some MPs of one party in the ruling coalition (the Independence Party), is nonetheless an opposition party bill supporting an unpopular position, and is therefore unlikely to pass.


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