Wednesday, July 14, 2010

At least everyone else is drinking more too..

Everyone should read the journal Addiction; then you would not miss awesome stories like this one. Changes in per capita alcohol sales during the partial privatization of BC retail alcohol monopoly. Wow, now that is a title. In 2002 the moratorium on new private liquor store licenses was lifted. Between 2003/4 and 2007/8 there has been a 33% increase in private liquor stores (786 to 1,294) and a 9.9% decrease in BC Govt Liquor stores. This lead to a per capital alcohol sales increase from 8.04 litres in 2003/4 to 8.63 litres in 2007/8. When expressed another way, we in BC increased our pure ethanol consumption by 4.2 million litres between 2003/4 and 2007/8! These numbers are similar to other nations that have partially deregulated liquor sales: such as Sweden.

So is there a down side? The first reaction is NO, this is awesome. One can get beer after 6pm on weekdays and the private stores have a great selection of beer. I feel better if I can get a bottle of Mikkeller or Chimay at 7pm on a Sunday afternoon.

It may seem great for individual consumers, but from a public health standpoint it can be a nightmare. Some estimates from Sweden have predicted that there would be a possible 19% increase in alcohol related deaths if booze was sold in private liquor stores. This number might increase to 33% if hooch was available in grocery stores. The effects of alcohol deregulation in the UK has been disastrous; at least according to some people.

So what is the take home message from this article? No much. Alcohol consumption is going up, the long term effects of this is not known. There is potential for things to go wrong. Thanks to the researcher at the Victoria based, Centre of Addictions Research of BC for publishing this article.

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