Swedish lessons

I was in Sweden yesterday and spotted one of their 400 or so, faintly depressing national Systembolaget shops. In Sweden, virtually all alcohol is sold through these state monopolised supermarket/boozermarkets.


They think this helps minimise alcohol-related illnesses and problems in Swedish society, although judging by the clearly alcohol-raddled customers (not pictured, you'll have to take my word for it – they had faces like the Tollund Man) in the queue at this place, they don't appear to have eradicated alcoholism entirely. Prices were fairly extortionate though. A 750ml bottle of Jack Daniels was £25 which probably explains why the queue was so short and the rest of the place deserted.

The result is that Swedes do drink significantly less than most of the rest of us, and have lower rates of alcoholism. They have also been shown to be 28% less fun than the European average (Source: University of Manchester Fun Index 2007*).

As someone who, under severe peer pressure occasionally sips a light sherry, I do find Systembolaget unsettling as a concept but you can't help wondering if perhaps taxing, controlling and, to an extent stigmatising, the purchasing of alcohol in this way might be the solution for the UK's alcohol related problems. Who knows, maybe one day Systembolag could come to the UK or the US.

Then again, someone in Sweden must have been under the influence of something when they named this candy bar.


* I made that up about the Fun Index thing, sorry. Bet it's true though.

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