The dynamics of shifts in alcoholic beverage preference: effects of the legalization of beer in Iceland
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CitationJ. Stud. Alcohol. 1998, 59(1):107-14
AbstractOBJECTIVE: The purpose of the present study is to examine the changes in alcoholic beverage preference and the underlying social and cultural dynamics that followed the legalization of strong beer in Iceland in 1989. METHOD: Data from three nationwide surveys on drinking habits carried out among a random sample of all Icelanders, men and women, 20-69 years old, are analyzed. A questionnaire was mailed to the prospective respondents and in 1988 the response rate was 75.1%, in 1989 it was 73.3% and in 1992 it was 74.7%. RESULTS: Total alcohol consumption peaked the year after strong beer was introduced, but leveled off in the following years as the novelty of the new beverage faded away and real income declined. A shift in beverage preference towards beer took place as soon as it became available. The survey data indicate that almost all sociodemographic groups are moving from the traditional distilled spirits to weaker beverages, beer in particular. The groups contributing most to the current preference for lighter beverages are those living in the capital area, women, individuals aged 30-49 years, people in the academic professions and management, and men belonging to the service professions. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest some important conclusions regarding alcohol policy. The collective behavior of drinkers documented in this study supports the view that the general population is an important target group for alcohol policy measures. Particular attention to specific subgroups of drinkers may be applied as a supplementary measure.
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