Swedes drank less in 2005

Alcohol consumption in Sweden dropped this year for the first time since 1996, with drink imports from abroad taking the hardest hit, a Swedish researcher told AFP on Friday.

“Between 1996 and 2004 alcohol consumption just kept on rising. Now it seems we’ve broken that trend,” said professor Börje Olsson at Stockholm University’s Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD).

Between November 2004 and November 2005, Swedish average alcohol consumption dropped one percent to 10.2 litres of pure alcohol per person over the age of 15, according to SoRAD.

The centre calculates Swedes drinking trends each month for the previous 12-month period based on sales numbers from Sweden’s alcohol monopoly Systembolaget and monthly polls of 1,500 of the country’s residents.

Since 1996, average alcohol consumption in Sweden jumped from eight litres of pure alcohol annually per person to an all-time high of 10.5 litres at the beginning of 2004, when the country raised the legal limit on alcohol imports.

Swedes, who initially shifted crates and crates of cheap drinks back from neighbouring countries, appear to have wearied somewhat of travelling to buy their booze: over the 12 months leading up to November, alcohol imports shrank 10 percent, according to Olsson.

“It appears that we have hit some kind of ceiling (and that) the craving for alcohol has peaked,” he said, adding that many Swedes may have realized that they did not save much money traveling abroad for their alcohol.

Systembolaget’s sales meanwhile jumped 5.1 percent last month compared to the same period last year.

“People appear to be returning to Systembolaget. We see this trend even in Skåne (in southern Sweden), where it’s easy to travel across to Denmark or Germany for alcohol,” Olsson said.

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