The Ministry of Education and Culture is considering lifting the ban on advertising alcohol and tobacco products, RÚV reports. A majority of the committee on independent media proposed the change, publishing a report on the matter this past January. The committee states the advertisements could present a large source of income for independent media in Iceland.
It is currently illegal to advertise alcohol and tobacco in Iceland, though advertisements for low-alcohol beer, which skirt regulations, occasionally appear.
Minister of Education and Culture Lilja Dögg Alfreðsdóttir says the ministry is considering how the ads would impact media. “Of course, I think the most important thing regarding these ads is when we make a decision that we have a public health perspective as our guiding principle,” she added.
Icelandic Federation of Trade Secretary General Ólafur Stephensen told Fréttablaðið that research from other countries showed advertisements for alcohol did not lead to increased consumption, rather had an effect on which alcohol products consumers chose. Were the ban lifted, he added, advertisements would have to follow regulations such as not targeting minors or glamorizing alcohol consumption.
Rafn M. Jónsson, project manager for alcohol and drug abuse prevention at the Icelandic Directorate of Health, is against the proposal. “There are big agencies which monitor this and advertisements and marketing of alcohol has the effect of increasing consumption, that’s very clear.” Rafn points out that lifting the existing ban would run counter to trends across Europe tightening regulations. “This would be a blemish on our otherwise excellent alcohol policy,” he stated.