The supply of alcoholic beverages in transitional conditions: the case of Central and Eastern Europe
Three periods are distinguished and applied to describe the dynamics of changes in the system of supply of alcoholic beverages in Central and Eastern Europe since 1980. The distinction of these three periods is based on changes in the regulation of the supply. The period of the old regulation ended in most countries around the 1990s. A deregulation took place in the early 1990s. The first steps toward a reregulation were visible in attempts to create a new order in the alcohol market in the last years of the 1990s. The analysis builds mainly on developments in Poland and Russia, with more scattered information from other countries. In each period the role of different actors (the state, the enterprises, organized crime, civil organizations and individuals), different interests (economic development, state finances, political order, public order, public health and various symbolic interests) and different public measures to regulate the supply (licensing, taxation and preventive actions and treatment) are considered. The analysis shows how the state lost its dominant position to private firms and is slowly regaining it again, how interest in state finances, overall economic development and later in profit-making dominate all three periods, and how the old system of regulations was ruined, to become rebuilt in very small steps with many conflicts and complications. Public health interests and also civil society interests were weak in comparison with economic interests. From the public health perspective, changes in the supply system have had significant consequences, but a more comprehensive regulation of supply does not necessarily lead to diminished alcohol-related harm.
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