“Slash booze tax ? in Skåne”

A leading think tank on crime prevention has proposed that alcohol tax should be reduced – but only in Skåne.

Reduced national alcohol tax is one of the proposals that fell by the wayside in government budget negotiations, but now a crime think-tank has said that people living in the southern region of Skåne should get their booze cheaper.

Eric Grevholm, head of research and development for the crime prevention bureau Brå, said in an opinion piece that he favors a reduction immediately in the region, which includes Malmö, citing a great increase in smuggling there.

Skåne’s proximity to Denmark – Malmö is only a twenty-minute train ride from Copenhagen – has made it easier for its inhabitants to take advantage of Denmark’s lower alcohol prices.

Grevholm says smuggling leads to reduced sales by Systembolaget, the government monopoly alcohol retailer. This is particularly true in Skåne, where sales fell sixteen percent after Denmark slashed its alcohol tax. Grevholm says a 40-percent tax cut would solve a few problems.

“Increased alcohol consumption can lead to more violence in the form of abuse. But the relationship between consumption and violence is complicated…trying to increase sales by Systembolaget isn’t about consuming alcohol, but about trying to reduce crimes like illegal reselling of alcohol,” he writes.

Grevholm suggests a limited time and a limited area for the tax cut, while also suggesting raising the age limit for buying alcohol in stores as well as at restaurants.

The Social Democrats had proposed a 40-percent alcohol tax cut nationwide – but the Greens and the Lefts were firmly opposed. The budget presented by Göran Persson on Tuesday contained no reductions in alcohol tax; tax was in fact increased on so-called alcopops.

Regional alcohol taxes – a winning idea? Discuss here