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Wine at the farm market, beer at the corner store: healthy?

AlcoholThere has been an increasing amount of pressure being put on politicians to loosen the laws controlling the sale of alcohol in Ontario.

Public health is opposed to these measures as the research indicates increased access results in increased consumption.  Alcohol use that exceeds the national Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines can lead to long-term chronic disease, as well as immediate harm from alcohol-related injury and violence.

Public health units have a provincial mandate to reduce alcohol consumption, while the commercial pressure is to increase it. We make the case in two current alcohol sale issues, below.

On VQA Wine at the Farmer's Market

farm market imageWhy would the health unit want to interfere with a farmer's market trying to sell Ontario wine?

It's simple: in Ontario, alcohol access is controlled so that consumption can be controlled. Remove the sales controls and ... you get the picture. There is ample proof that when alcoholic products are made easier to buy, the amount being consumed rises.   

  • The more people drink alcoholic products, the higher the risk of long-term chronic illness. Alcohol is the second-leading risk factor for disease and disability in Canada. Cancer Care Ontario just recently released a report on the link between alcohol and cancer.
  • The health unit does not oppose the moderate consumption of alcoholic beverages. There are now national drinking guidelines to help you minimize the risk of long-term health harm. Read the national Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines

 

Here is the recent ruling from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission allowing Ontario wineries to sell VQA products at farmer's markets, on a two-year trial basis.

Municipalities have the option of refusing to allow sales of wine at farmer's markets in their territory. The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit supports any municipality making this decision.

Farm markets are a great way to buy fresh and nutritious produce. Mixing alcohol in with that 'normalizes' alcohol, attaching the appeal of farm markets to the sale of alcohol -- a message that children will take home with them.

The sale of wine is best left to the LCBO, where it is conducted in a socially responsible manner.

On Alcohol in Convenience Stores

imageIt seems perfectly logical at first glance: make it more convenient to the customer and increase business for local retailers.

But the sale of alcohol in convenience stores looks a lot less appealing with a proper cost-benefit analysis. The evidence shows a direct relationship between the increase in access to alcohol and increased alcohol-related injuries and harm.

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