Registered alcohol consumption in Norway has stabilised or even declined slightly after a steady increase in the period from the early 1990s to 2008. The major shift in Norwegian consumption patterns over the last decades is the strong increase in wine consumption. Studies indicate that Norwegians still tend to binge drink, but have also adopted more continental habits with more frequent consumption. By 2015, 82 per cent of the population reported drinking at least once in the last year. 36 percent said they had been drinking each week.

 

Men still drink considerably more than women, but long term trends indicate that women’s consumption has increased significantly. We also see increasing consumption among older age groups as new cohorts take their drinking habits into old age.

 

Interestingly, there seems to be a decrease in youth alcohol consumption, despite relatively high consumption levels among adults. This decrease is found in a number of studies and is also seen in other countries.

 

A national study published in February 2016 showed that while most Norwegian seventh graders have never tried alcohol, there is a "worrisome" amount who have. Among Norwegian 12-year-olds, every tenth boy reports drinking at least one serving of alcohol within the past month and three percent say that they have been drunk. On the positive side, the survey concluded that most Norwegian seventh-graders have never tried alcohol – 69 percent of boys and 83 percent of girls. But nine percent of the boys and four percent of the girls said that within the previous month they had had at least one glass of beer, wine or spirits.

 

In addition, 3.1 percent of boys and 0.8 percent of girls said they had been drunk which the study defined as having at least five alcoholic drinks in one sitting. (Source: The Local)

The recent decline comes after a long period of increase and is still relatively high in a historical perspective. Moreover, some of the reduction in consumption may be offset by increasing taxfree sales, particularly in the period after the increase in travellers’ allowance in 2014. Taxfree sales figures are unfortunately not included in the official consumption statistics. Turnover at Norwegian airports (duty-free) was 0.59 liters of pure alcohol per capita in 2014, down to 0.52 liters by 2015.

 

Unregistered consumption
SIRUS does give an estimate for the unregistered consumption. In 2012, alcohol consumption was 6.21 litres of pure alcohol per inhabitant over 15 years of age. In addition, there is unregistered consumption from cross-border trade in Sweden and duty-free sales at Norwegian airports, which is estimated to be 1.6 litres (SIRUS, Drug statistics). Unregistered consumption also includes other «tourist import», alcohol consumption while abroad, home brewing of beer, wine and spirits, and smuggling. Source: FHI.no

 

Studies indicate that support for restrictive alcohol policies such as the state monopoly, taxation, age limits, closing times and advertising ban has increased in recent years. People’s beliefs in the effectiveness of the policies and the connection between alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harm seem to influence their attitudes towards policies.

 

The following figure shows that for the whole population, the proportion engaging in heavy episodic drinking was stable at around 18 per cent from 2012 to 2016. The figure also includes separate lines for the 16-30 and 31-79 age groups. These two groups exhibited slightly different trends. For the 16-30 age group, the proportion fell from 34 per cent to 28 per cent, while for the 31-79 age group, the proportion remained stable at around 13 per cent. Source: The Norwegian Institute of Public Health