Alcohol, drugs and tobacco

Last updated: 4 10 2018

Image Boken om Sverige
This material is from the book About Sweden.

If you want to buy alcohol in Sweden, you have to be 20 years of age or older. Alcohol is sold at Systembolaget, which is owned by the Swedish central government. Drinks that only contain a small amount of alcohol, for example some types of beer and cider, are also sold in food shops. In order to buy alcohol in this type of shop, you have to be 18 years of age or older. You can also order alcohol in a restaurant, for example, if you are over 18.

Drinking alcohol for a long period can lead to depression, anxiety and sleeping problems. If you drink a lot of alcohol, there is a risk of you becoming addicted. There is also a risk that you will develop diseases or injuries.


All narcotics are illegal in Sweden. It is illegal to sell and buy narcotics. It is also illegal to possess narcotics for private use, i.e. to have narcotics that you are going to use yourself. Crimes involving narcotics have severe punishments, often imprisonment.

People who use drugs often have difficulties giving them up on their own. Most people who are addicted to drugs need help from medical care staff to quit.

The most common drugs in Sweden are cannabis (hash, marijuana), amphetamines, cocaine and heroin. Khat is also classified as a drug. Selling or possessing khat can lead to a long prison sentence and large fines.

Photo: Colourbox


Smoking can give you many different diseases and result in your premature death. Cancer, lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases and stomach ulcers are some of the diseases caused by smoking. When you are in the same room as a person who is smoking, you also breath in the smoke. This is called passive smoking and means that you can get the same diseases as the person who smokes. As smoking is harmful to health, you have to be 18 years old to buy cigarettes or tobacco.


Smoking a hookah creates a high level of humidity. This means that more smoke is formed than when smoking a cigarette. If you smoke a hookah for one hour, you inhale 100–200 times as much harmful smoke as you get from one cigarette. A smoking session with a hookah is equivalent to about 100 cigarettes, as the smoking takes place over a longer period than smoking a cigarette. The charcoal that is used when smoking generates carbon monoxide, metals and carcinogens that spread throughout the body.


Snus is tobacco that is paced under the lip. Snus can cause injuries and diseases of the mouth and can lead to cancer.


An e-cigarette is an electronic cigarette that consists of a mouthpiece, a battery, a vaporiser and smoke fluid. It is a way of getting nicotine without smoking tobacco. E-cigarettes contain several substances that may harm your health, including nicotine, propylene glycol and glycerine.

You can get help

You can get help if you have problems with alcohol or drugs. Family and close friends of people with addiction problems can also get help. In addition to the addicition treatment that is available through medical care services or social services, certain charities and also the church offer support and help. You can also call 1177 on your phone to get health care guidance. If you want to stop smoking tobacco or taking snuff, contact your local medical care centre to join a quitting programme.