Iceland

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Einarsson: Unclear whose interests are protected here

“The ‘alcohol bill’ – as the draft legislative act seeking to deregulate the retail sale of alcohol in Iceland is commonly known – has now been approved by a majority of members of the Icelandic Parliament (‘Alþingi’) General Affairs Committee,” The Iceland Monitor wrote this week.

The bill received the endorsement of a cross-party majority of committee MPs and now moves on to Alþingi for further legislative processing.

“It did not surprise that the majority of the Committee of Judicial Affairs and Education approved the „alcohol bill“,” said Arni Einarsson, NordAN board member from Iceland. “The committee consists of nine members, thereoff are four of them among the movers of the proposal. It is of course a matter of question why all the evidence based information and arguments provided against the bill and the strong opposition on behalf of all those working in the field of public health, health promotion, prevention and child and youth affairs has so little weight in the minds of these “public servants“. In addition all recent polls show that a majority of Icelanders do not want to change the system regarding retail sale of alcohol.”

NordAN, among others, have expressed support for the current monopoly system by adopting a resolution at the Helsinki conference last October stating that “the monopoly system is an important corner-stone of Iceland´s effective alcohol policy.”

“It is of course a matter of question which interests the majority of the committee and other supporters of the bill in the parliament are protecting. Are they safeguarding the interests of public health? Are they safeguarding the interests of the majority which is opposed to the bill? The bill now moves on to Alþingi for further legislative processing and we will of course continue to express our public health arguments and point out that the majority of the people are opposed to the bill,” concludes Einarsson.

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