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With the release of the latest guidance on alcohol consumption in Canada, the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse and Addiction (CCSA) is recommending alcohol health warning labels.
The new guidance states that consuming no alcohol is safest and that consuming more than 2 drinks per week increases the risk of some forms of cancer as well as social harm.
There is growing support amongst Canadians for warning labels. As reported by CBC in the article “It’s time to put cancer labels on alcohol, experts say”, a February 2022 Canadian Cancer Society survey found that 8 out of 10 Canadians support the idea of adding health warning labels to alcohol containers.
In 2017, the Canadian Institute for Substance Abuse Research and Ontario Public Health conducted the first real-world study on warning labels on alcohol containers in Canada. Three different labels were placed on alcohol containers at government liquor stores in Whitehorse, Yukon. Sales of labelled products decreased by 6.6% while sales of non-labelled products increased by nearly 7%. The study was stopped after 1 month because of pressure from the Canadian liquor industry. Read more about the halted alcohol warning label study at CBC.
Will We See Health Warning Labels on Alcohol in BC?
In a recent CBC article, Jeff Guignard, Executive Director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees in BC, stated that warning labels “irritate consumers”. Mr. Guignard suggested that by the time someone has decided to buy alcohol, their mind is made up. Guignard stated that high school curriculum is appropriate venue to educate people about the possible dangers of alcohol consumption. Guignard added that you can’t put labels on pints of beer or glasses of wine in bars and pubs.
If health warning labels become mandatory, they may only hurt BC’s private liquor stores, because (as Guignard pointed out) warning labels on drinking glasses are impractical. Thrive Liquor & Cannabis Advisors will post updates about health warning labels as more information is made available.