Alcohol consumption shows trends over multiple months, giving policymakers a view of how the general population is making consumption decisions. Alcohol consumption is an important public health concern. Decisions about drinking impact other areas of life, and can lead to possibly risky behaviors, such as dangerous sexual choices, and rash decisions.
In Sweden, the story is no different. Policymakers want to understand the consumption trends among the population, in order to assess whether more attention is required in developing education and intervention strategies for reducing risky alcohol consumption behaviors.
Conflicting reports are being issued regarding the consumption levels among Swedish drinkers. The Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly reports that sales are rising and Statistics Sweden indicates that Swedes are drinking more and more alcohol. However, the Consumption Report 2010, issued by the Centre for Consumer Science at the University of Gothenburg reports that alcohol consumption is falling.
How can this be? Is it possible for the Swedish population to be purchasing more alcohol but not consuming it, based on the information given by the Swedish Alcohol Retail Monopoly?
Information released by the Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD) may offer insight into the disparity. SoRAD shows that between 2004 and 2009, Swedish alcohol consumption steadily fell. During the same period, the Swedish Alcohol Monopoly reports an increase in sales of 22 percent. In addition, from 2008 to 2009, the Swedish Alcohol Monopoly showed an increase of 10 percent in sales.
Mats Ramstedt, a researcher involved with the analysis performed by SoRAD, offers an explanation for the gap between apparent buying habits and consumption among the Swedish population. Ramstedt explains that Swedes are consuming less and less alcohol purchased abroad. While the Swedish Alcohol Monopoly reports only on domestic sales, SoRAD includes purchases abroad through legal imports, internet orders and smuggled spirits in their reported statistics.
Ramstedt cautions that in order to get a realistic view of consumption among Swedes, it is crucial that all aspects are taken into consideration. The analysis must include the entire alcohol market, says Ramstedt, docent at the Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs at Stockholm University.
In addition to looking at domestic and imported consumption, SoRAD’s analysis also includes both legal and illegal purchases, and internet purchases. While Statistics Sweden includes approximately 2,000 respondents in their analysis, SoRAD interviews 18,000 individuals.
The information gathered by SoRAD is an encouraging picture of alcohol consumption in Sweden. While domestic sales may have risen according to data provided by Statistics Sweden, overall consumption has fallen steadily.
By: Susan Campbell