january 2010

Changes in alcohol-related problems after alcohol policy changes in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden

OBJECTIVE: European Union travelers' allowances for alcohol import to Denmark, Sweden, and Finland were abolished in 2004. In addition, excise taxes on alcohol were lowered in 2003 and 2005 in Denmark, and in 2004 in Finland. Using northern Sweden as a control site, this study examines whether levels of reported alcohol problems have changed in Denmark, Finland, and southern Sweden as a consequence of these policy changes.

METHOD: Annual cross-sectional surveys were conducted in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden from 2003 to 2006. Five dependency items and seven extrinsic alcohol-related problems were examined. Changes were analyzed within each country/region with logistic regressions and tested for short- and long-term changes. Differential change was also tested between each country and the control site, northern Sweden.

RESULTS: Prevalence of alcohol problems decreased over the study period. Only in selected subgroups did problems increase. This mainly occurred in the samples for northern Sweden and Finland, and mostly among older age groups and men. In relation to the control site, however, no increases in problem prevalence were found.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings on a decline in reported alcohol problems largely agree with published reports on alcohol consumption over the same period in the study countries. They do not agree, however, with findings on changes in health and social statistics in Finland and Denmark, where some significant increases in alcohol-related harm have been found.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Bloomfield K.; Wicki M.; Gustafsson N.K.; Makela P.; Room R.
  • Issue

    J.Stud.Alcohol Drugs / pages 32-40 / volume 71
  • Published Date

    january 2010