How Greenland curbed alcohol abuse

An interesting alcohol policy story from Greenland:

Alcohol abuse causes tremendous damage in Greenland…

But the solution chosen by Greenland’s government for its most remote communities is not prohibition, which it acknowledges does not work, and only encourages bootlegging and the binge drinking of hard liquor. It’s to ban hard liquor, but allow the sale of beer and wine.

Qaanaaq, a community of 800 near Thule on Green­land’s west coast, is following this path after the government recently agreed to lift a two-month ban on alcohol.

The ban was prompted by a sociologist’s report that described a community where alcohol abuse was so rampant children were often afraid to return home because their parents were drunk day and night.

Across Greenland, alcohol consumption has dropped dramatically since booze bans were lifted in many communities in 1982. At that time, residents consumed, on average, 22 litres of alcohol each year. That has since dropped to 13 litres.

That’s still a lot compared to Canada, where the average resident drinks only eight litres of alcohol a year. But it’s a huge improvement for Greenland, says Bodil Poulsen, an alcohol abuse worker with Greenland’s health department.