Full text: Iceland 1930

Though distillation of spirits has for centuries been an unknown 
industry in Iceland, large quantities of alcoholic beverages have been 
imported from abroad, especially the so-called Danish Brandy, the use 
of which so increased in course of time that a little after the middle 
of the nineteenth century the annual per capita consumption amounted 
to about 6 litres (a 50 per cent. alcohol, while that of wines did not 
exceed 0.7 of a litre. 
A few total abstinence societies were formed here in the early fifties, 
but the salutary influence exerted by them was very slight indeed; 
and a powerful agitation in favour of temperance was not begun till 
1884 when the International Order of Good Templars (I. O. G. T.) 
was introduced in Iceland. In the years immediately following, in- 
terest in temperance quickly spread over the country; a number of 
lodges sprang up, and a Grand Lodge was established in 1886; in 
1897 there were 2000 good templars in the country; in 1907 their 
number had risen to 6700, which corresponds to rather more than 8 
per cent. of the then population. The society has powerfully influenced 
drink legislation in Iceland and since 1893 it enjoys a State grant to 
promote temperance. 
With the exception of a tax on all imported wines and spirits which 
was imposed in 1872 and often since made subject to repealed and 
heavy increases, little was done by the legislature to encourage the ef- 
forts for the sobriety of the people. But in 1888 a law was passed, 
according to which special permission had to be obtained to sell in- 
toxicants for consumption on the premises. Licences (valid for 5 years 
at most) were granted by the government; but no application was 
considered unless supported by the local electorate and approved, in 
towns, by the town council and, in rural districts, by the parish and 
district councils. In 1899 further restrictions were imposed, and the 
granting of licences to retail alcoholic drinks was made subiect to the 
decision of the local authorities (see above). 
These legislative measures and the work done bythe Good Templar 
Lodges effected a great improvement; the number of retail and inn- 
keepers’ licences diminished steadilv, and about 1907 many districts 
were quite ‘dry’. 
Just after the commencement of the present century the L.O.G.T. be- 
gan to devote its efforts fo securing total prohibition of the importa-

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