Legislation aims at making alcohol more expensive in Greenland

When discussing alcohol consumption in Greenland, Denmark often provides a frame of reference. Back in the 1980s, every resident over the age of 14 put away 20 liters of alcohol a year, about twice as much as Danes. Since then, consumption is down by more than half, and is now lower than in Denmark, which has stayed the same.

The fall is due in large part to higher excise taxes, first put into place in 1992. This has led to considerably altered drinking patterns, according to Else Poulsen, a psychologist who heads the government’s drug and alcohol advisory board. But while it is true that many people today drink much less, she says that what the statistic does not show is that for those who abuse alcohol, consumption is going up.

Much of the reason for this, according to legislation being proposed by the national government, is due to relatively liberal laws governing the sale of alcohol. Changes inspired by World Health Organisation guidelines have been put forward as a way to make it harder for people to get their hands on drink by restricting sales hours, requiring alcohol to be sold from separate retail outlets and setting minimum prices, a measure that would ban things like weekly supermarket specials and happy hours at pubs.

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