More Icelanders For Than Against Beer & Wine In Shops, Still Opposed To Spirits - The Reykjavik Grapevine

More Icelanders For Than Against Beer & Wine In Shops, Still Opposed To Spirits

Published June 6, 2019

Andie Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

A greater share of Icelanders support the sale of beer and wine in private shops than those who oppose it, but the vast majority of Icelanders still object to spirits leaving state-run stores, a new poll from Maskína shows.

For the unfamiliar: in Iceland, alcoholic beverages can only be purchased at ÁTVR, the state-owned alcohol store. That’s right—the “beer” you bought at the supermarket is only about 2% alcohol and is not going to give you any kind of buzz.

According to the results of the poll, 44.5% of respondents said they support the sale of beer in shops, while 40.9% were against it. This is the greatest level of support for beer in stores since 2014. 44.2% support selling wine in shops, while 41.9% are opposed.

Where spirits are concerned, results were far more definitive, with 67.4% against selling liquor in shops, while only 16.8% support it.

Previous attempts to change the law to allow the retail sale of alcohol have failed several times, even when limited to specialty shops.

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.

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