Article: Europe drinks twice as much
We Europeans drink twice as much alcohol as the rest of the world – an average of 1.6 glasses of wine every day. So how much do you think we drink in Sweden?
It’s easy to believe that everyone drinks. But six out of every ten people on this planet don’t actually drink a single drop of alcohol. But 3.3 million people still die from diseases and injuries related to alcohol worldwide. Every year.
More men die
Alcohol increases the risk of traffic accidents, violence, accidents in workplaces, various types of infectious disease, cardiovascular diseases, gastrointestinal diseases, and various forms of cancer. A frightening 7.6 per cent of all men who die, worldwide, die due to alcohol. The corresponding figure for women is 4 per cent. And here in Europe, we drink more than anyone else. In the light of these facts and figures, it is easy to see why Systembolaget’s most important mandate is to limit the harmful effects of alcohol.
A monopoly makes a difference
Systembolaget works to limit the harmful effects of alcohol in a variety of different ways. The actual monopoly, that is the fact that it is only at Systembolaget that you, the consumer, can buy alcohol, makes a big difference. This is clear from, amongst other things, the fact that alcohol consumption levels in Sweden are lower than in the majority of other European countries without an alcohol retail monopoly.
Focusing on research
Systembolaget works with research and information campaigns to increase people’s understanding and awareness of the harmful effects of alcohol. Here are a few examples of our work:
- Alcohol and health. In 2016, Systembolaget held four open seminars on the subject of second-hand drinking and on the effects of alcohol on stress, cancer and exercise.
- “Bästa Festen”. A partnership between Systembolaget’s subsidiary company, IQ, and the Swedish National Union of Students. The aim of the project is to generate a student lifestyle that can include alcohol, but where it is not the focus.
- New research centre in Lund. A WHO Collaboration Center for the implementation of health promotion opened in Lund in 2016. The centre is partially financed by Systembolaget and will act as a knowledge hub for everyone working with the treatment of alcohol-related harm.
- Boxed wine – are they a good thing? Boxed wines are popular at Systembolaget, but are they making Swedes drink more? A study investigating how boxed wines affect the amount of alcohol we drink was launched in 2016, and the results will be presented in 2017.
So how much do we drink, then?
These measures – and a great many more – are having an effect. According to the latest Monitor survey, alcohol consumption in Sweden is estimated at 9.2 litres per annum, calculated as pure alcohol, per head of population aged 15 and above – which is well below the European average of almost 11 litres.
Alcohol consumption in Sweden has also fallen by approximately 11 per cent over the past decade. This is good news, but public health problems related to alcohol in Sweden are still estimated to cost SEK 66 billion per year44. And it’s not just those who drink who suffer: it’s their families, friends and colleagues too. Which is why, year after year, Systembolaget continues to support alcohol research and to communicate how alcohol affects us, our families, and Sweden as a whole.