An alcohol monopoly is a government monopoly on manufacturing and/or retailing of some or all alcoholic beverages, such as beer, wine and spirits. It can be used as an alternative for total prohibition. They exist in all Nordic countries except mainland Denmark (only on the Faroe Islands), and in all provinces and territories in Canada (except Alberta which privatized its monopoly in 1993). In the United States, there are some alcoholic beverage control states, where alcohol sales are controlled by either private retailers or like in Pennsylvania, a government operation.
Examples of alcohol monopolies are namely Systembolaget in Sweden, Alko in Finland, Vínbúð in Iceland, Rúsdrekkasøla Landsins in the Faroe Islands, Vinmonopolet in Norway, SAQ in Quebec, and the LCBO in Ontario.
The alcohol monopoly was created in the Swedish town of Falun in 1850, to prevent overconsumption and reduce the profit motive for sales of alcohol. It later went all over the country in 1905 when the Swedish parliament ordered all sales of vodka to be done via local alcohol monopolies. In 1895, Russia established a state monopoly on alcohol, which became a major source of revenue for the Russian government.
Following the prohibition of alcohol in Norway in 1919, the wine-producing nations demanded a reflexive policy regarding the goods exported from Norway, and Vinmonopolet was established in 1922, as a response to a deal with France, which allowed Norwegians to buy as much table wine of any kind as they wanted. When prohibition was lifted on fortified wine in 1923 and spirits in 1926, Vinmonopolet assumed sales of these goods as well.
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