Canada: Calls for Better Alcohol Policy
Health experts in Canada are calling for better alcohol control policy to curb the growing alcohol harm in the country, specially on women.
The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), issued an alcohol policy framework outlining the current problematic trends of alcohol use specifically in terms of advertising, increased consumption by women and alcohol related violence.
Several key issues noted by CAMH are,
- Women’s high risk for alcohol harm due to their bodies processing alcohol differently.
- The relationship with alcohol and sexual violence. Research has found 59% women in university has experienced sexual assault with at least half the cases being related to alcohol. Research shows 50% women out at clubs and bars experiences sexual aggression.
- Problem of women targeted advertising of alcohol.
- The billion dollar financial burden on the healthcare and penal system due to alcohol.
- Alcohol is the cause of death for nearly 15,000 deaths in Canada every year.
- More people are hospitalized due to conditions entirely due to alcohol than for heart attacks.
- Loosening of alcohol regulations have accelerated in the last 5 years and resulted in increased hospitalizations.
- Alcohol plays a major role in more than 200 diseases and injury conditions.
- Alcohol is a group 1 carcinogen and increases risk of cancer under any amount of consumption.
- International research shows privatization resulted in more locations selling alcohol per capita (stores and drinking establishments), cheaper prices, longer sale hours, fewer ID checks, thereby leading to increased alcohol harm.
With the Ontario government on track to sell alcohol in convenience stores, CAMH is recommending giving municipalities the capacity to opt out. According to CAMH evidence suggests this move would greatly increase alcohol harm.
Recommendations by CAMH
- A moratorium on privatization
- Increasing pricing minimums and eventually closing related loopholes
- Maintaining or increasing the price of alcohol, and automatically adjusted for inflation
- Limit sale hours and per-capita store density
- Implement advertising restrictions, including quantity, placement, product labelling and packaging
- Lower the blood alcohol limit to 0.05 per cent
- Better access to treatment and programs, etc.
- Work/partner with licenced establishments, such as bars and clubs, to educate and enforce procedures that would reduce the risk of violence and sexual assault
- Have the province invest more money in education, prevention, treatment, monitoring, and research, using for example, a percentage derived from alcohol sales