In last week’s poll titled Big Changes Affecting the Sale of Beer, the author welcomes Premier Kathleen Wynne’s plans to expand the sale of beer to 450 grocery stores in Ontario. He notes that there are some negative aspects to the plan but overall it is good news for Ontario and makes our alcohol availability comparable to other provinces and states.
But did our government think about the health of Ontarians when they were making these decisions? Excessive alcohol use is the second leading cause of mortality and morbidity in developed countries. Research tells us that loosening alcohol control policies, such as increasing alcohol availability, contributes to increased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms in our communities.
In other provinces, such as British Columbia and Alberta, where alcohol control policies have been loosened, there has been an increase in alcohol related deaths, impaired driving, family violence, and suicide rates. And despite the revenue generated by alcohol sales, total alcohol-related costs including health care and enforcement exceed generated revenue by approximately $500 million annually in Ontario.5 Public safety and preventing harms need to be considered a priority over convenience or profits.
Before the Ontario government loosens alcohol control polices further, a thorough understanding about the health impact of these decisions is necessary so that our families and communities are protected from the harms of excessive alcohol use. KFL&A Public Health will continue to urge the government to put the health of Ontarians first.
Submitted to Kingstonist’s Community Soapbox by Daphne Mayer, Manager, Public Health Programs and Services for Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington Public Health.
Photo Credit to David Goehring.