Iceland Mag

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Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

Overwhelming majority opposes abolishing the state liquor monopoly

By Staff

  • Vínbúðin Consumer surveys have repeatedly revealed that the state monopoly liquor stores have higher customer satisfaction than any other retail stores. Photo/GVA

Only 15% of Icelanders support the idea of allowing grocery stores to sell liquor while 33% support allowing grocery stores to sell wine or beer. A large majority of voters (61.5%) are opposed to the idea of abolishing the state monopoly on the retail distribution of liquor. Two recent polls show that Icelanders prefer the current system of state monopoly liquor stores.

Majority supports continued existence of Vínbúðin monopoly stores
A poll conducted by the polling firm Zenter revealed that 61.5% of voters oppose a bill to abolish the state monopoly on the retail distribution of alcoholic drinks which is currently under debate in parliament. Only 23% support the bill. A second poll conducted by the polling firm MMR shows that 74% of Icelanders are opposed to allowing grocery stores to sell liquor while 15% supported the idea, 57% are opposed to allowing grocery stores to sell wine or beer and 33% are in support.

Read more: Beware: The “Pilsner” at grocery stores is not beer!

Since 1935, when prohibition was abolished in Iceland, beverages with more than 2.25% abv have only been sold in the state monopoly stores, Vínbúðin, operated by the state monopoly ÁTVR. Abolishing the state monopoly has been a long time goal of libertarians, enjoying strong support among the younger voters of the conservative Independence Party. However, the matter has never enjoyed widespread support among voters. 

Read more: Microbreweries protest proposed abolishment of the state monopoly liquor stores

Several bills have been submitted in parliament to abolish the monopoly, but none has ever gained any real traction. However, the current bill is considered to have a greater chance of passing as it is backed by MPs from the three parties which make up the current parliamentary majority, as well as members of the Pirate Party.

In addition to the majority of voters, the bill is opposed by Icelandic microbrewers, doctors and several public interest groups. 

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