Teen Swedes get hammered on hand gel

Teen Swedes get hammered on hand gel
One of many hand gel brands available in Sweden. Photo: Pontus Lindahl/TT
Pharmacies in south west Sweden have moved all anti bacterial hand gels to behind the counter, after becoming aware of a new teenage trend to get drunk on the alcoholic mixtures.

Police in the Värmland region have asked several chemists to take their hand gels away from shop floors after a number of cases in which teenagers became severely ill from drinking the products.

Stefan Sund, a police spokesperson for youth crimes in Karlskoga told local Sveriges Radio station P4 that the craze first became apparent on New Year's Eve.

“Young people were coming into the emergency room with alcohol poisoning and said that they had drunk alcogels,” he said.

He confirmed that pharmacies in Karlskoga, Degerfors and Hällefors were now only selling the gels to customers from behind the counter, on police orders. 

According to the TT news agency, some chemists in the Karlstad area have also moved alcoholic products of their own accord.

Swedes have to be aged 20 or over in order to buy drinks from the nation's state-funded alcohol monopoly Systembolaget, although they can be served in some bars and pubs once they turn 18.

A nationwide study released in December suggested that the proportion of alcohol drunk by Swedish high school students was at its lowest level in 40 years.

The high alcohol levels in some hand gels sold in the Nordic nation caused a separate stir in 2009, when it was found that bus drivers using the products to avoid catching swine flu were accidentally triggering built-in ignition locks designed to combat drunken driving. This brought services to a standstill in the Östersund region.