Report Shows Alcohol More Damaging than Tobacco Use

Two studies say the federal and provincial governments must do more to reduce alcohol consumption after determining it is now more damaging than tobacco use.

 As part of the Canadian Alcohol Policy Evaluation Project, researchers graded the federal, provincial and territorial governments on policy efforts to reduce alcohol-related harms.

The project was compiled by the University of Victoria's Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.

According to the report, Ontario and BC received the highest scores, with Ontario only receiving a C grade.

Eleven recommendations to increase that score are included in the report with pricing and taxation, availability, marketing and advertising restrictions topping the list.

Patrick Kolowicz is the Director of Mental Health & Addictions at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare - he spoke to Patty Handysides on The Afternoon News.

Kolowicz says one of the most alarming take always from the report is the fact that alcohol has now surpassed tobacco in related medical costs.

"They noted that the net revenue from alcohol in Canada, which was about $10.9-billion, that's only about 75% of the cost attached to alcohol use," he says. "That's estimated to be $14.6-billion back in 2014."

He wants to see the government increase funding to treat alcohol addiction, something the report shows is historically underfunded when compared to the negative health effects.

"Addiction treatment has become increasingly complex, so we want government to adopt policy recommendations on how to reduce the public health risks associated with the expanded availability of alcohol, especially around an increase in demand for treatment," he says.

According to the report, expanded LCBO hours and the addition of grocery store availability are factors for increased consumption and public harm.

Things like a "buck-a-beer" is also a major factor that Kolowicz says aren't helping people drink in moderation.

"There were five or six specific recommendations for the provinces to adopt in the report, and one of those is to introduce a minimum price of $1.75 per standard drink for alcohol [43-ml]," he says.

The Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and the Yukon all received F Grades in the report.

— with files from AM800's Patty Handysides