The Spirit and Wine Suppliers Association (SVL) and the Swedish Brewers Association, called from here on the principals, have decided to establish an Alcohol Commission. Erik Åsbrink has been named as chair of the commission and will lead the commission’s work.
Systembolaget’s retail alcohol monopoly has broad political support and is valued by the principals. The controlled sale of alcohol is the foundation stone in Swedish alcohol policy and the main tool for promoting public health. In order that the monopoly’s continued survival can be assured, it is, therefore, important, that Swedish alcohol policy develops in line with changes in the rest of the world and the principals seek to achieve a more relevant and up-to- date Swedish alcohol policy. There is currently little public or political debate on the challenges and opportunities that globalization, EU trade and changing attitudes present for Swedish alcohol policy.
2. The commission’s task
In order to stimulate wider discussion around the topics named above and to increase understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in the current system, the commission is to highlight how the system works today and how it can develop in the future. Focus is to be put on the in-flow and uncontrolled sale of alcohol and its economic and social consequences. The proposals that the commission presents should promote a relevant and up-to- date alcohol policy which aims to drive healthy attitudes to alcohol and its consumption. The results are to be presented in a report. During the course of its work, the commission is to undertake activities that generate interest in the commission’s work and stimulate debate in the issues on which it is working.
The commission’s role is to look into how Swedish alcohol policy can be developed and to come up with proposals on what a contemporary alcohol policy could look like. Systembolaget’s retail monopoly will be retained. An important element is, therefore, to identify factors in social changes and political decision making that impact on Systembolaget’s ability to maintain the controlled retail sale of alcohol.
The commission will, in particular:
- describe the unregulated alcohol market and its consequences from a legal, social and economic perspective. Of particular interest is relationship between organised crime and the uncontrolled sale of alcohol products and the best way to ensure that control is regained.
- investigate the relationship between tax and alcohol consumption with the aim of determining if alcohol taxes are appropriately designed, both from the perspective of limiting consumption of alcohol and generating tax revenues.
- study how the current design and level of alcohol taxes influences criminality and social problems.
- highlight the alcohol industry’s importance for jobs and growth and potential for the development of rural communities.
- review the social patterns, development and adverse effects of alcohol consumption and in particular the link between consumption and harm and if the ‘total consumption model’ is the most appropriate tool for analysis in this context.
- map the interrelationship, dependence and role of different stakeholders in Swedish alcohol policy and come up with proposals both as to if and how these roles can be made more appropriate.
The commission should take and international perspective with the aim of gathering both knowledge and inspiration from other comparable countries.
The Commission’s secretariat is staffed by Paues Åberg Communications, which is responsible for project management, the production of reports, external communication, media relations and administration. The Secretary of the Commission is Fredrik Östbom, Director, Paues Åberg Communications, and former chief of staff at the Ministry of Employment.