Sweden’s Unusual Alcohol Monopoly

In Sweden, alcohol is expensive and hard to get hold of. The state alcohol monopoly — called Systembolaget — has stated that its mission is “to minimize alcohol-related problems by selling alcohol in a responsible way, without profit motive.” Its stores are in the bizarre position of not really wanting you to buy their products. There are no special offers, no promotions, and limited open hours. However, Swedes say it’s all for their own good. According to a report by a panel of international experts, if the monopoly was abolished and alcohol was sold in supermarkets, the estimated annual toll in Sweden would be 28,680 more assaults and 1,418 more deaths – a 42% increase. That’s a sobering thought. For the record, Swedes rank 52nd in the world when it comes to alcohol consumption.