State liquor stores moot higher tax on wine

State liquor stores moot higher tax on wine
Sweden's state-run alcohol retail monopoly Systembolaget has demanded an extra tax on box wine equating a price hike of up to 25-30 percent in order to curb the thirst for bag-in-box wines.

A wine box typically contains the equivalent of four bottles of wine, but typically costs as much as three – a discount that the Systembolaget wants to see removed.

“We want to look over the possibilities for adapting alcohol taxes so that the quantity discount on box wine declines,” said Systembolaget’s press spokesperson Lennart Agén to the TT news agency.

The idea was described as “interesting” by a spokesperson for public health minister Maria Larsson.

Agén observed that a boxed wine is 15-30 percent cheaper than the equivalent quantity in bottles.

“The discount encourages the purchase of larger volumes and alcohol is no product which should be sold with a quantity discount,” he said.

Lennart Agén explained that the purpose of a higher tax would be to get Swedish people to buy less wine by the box.

“If you pay as much for a box as for four bottles of wine the effect is that consumption declines,” he said.

Sales of box wine have increased steadily in recent years and now account for around 60 percent of all wine sold at the Systembolaget.

According to the latest figures Swedish average alcohol consumption declined somewhat in 2009, but remains high in a historical perspective.

Average alcohol consumption, measured as litres of pure alcohol, amounted to 9.3 litres per person aged 15 and over, according to a report published in February by The Centre for Social Research on Alcohol and Drugs (SoRAD) at Stockholm University.

Systembolaget’s sales accounted for 62 percent of total sales with wine the most popular drink of choice, accounting for 41 percent of consumption, followed by beer and spirits on 35 and 22 percent respectively.

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