Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

November 27, 2012 07:00 ET

Canada Needs Minimum Alcohol Prices to Reduce Harm: New Research Series

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 27, 2012) - New alcohol pricing research upholds the call for minimum pricing and confirms that changes to price policy can reduce alcohol-related harm in Canada.

Written by Gerald Thomas, Senior Research and Policy Analyst with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), the alcohol pricing series examines drinking trends in Canada, the retail environment, and existing price policies in six provinces. It endorses the price policy recommendations first proposed in the 2007 report, Reducing Alcohol-Related Harm in Canada: Toward a Culture of Moderation, which provides the framework for Canada's national alcohol strategy.

"Addressing alcohol-related harm in Canada requires a targeted approach aimed at the regular heavy and high-risk drinkers, as well as a population-wide approach to address the large number of people who sometimes drink in risky ways," explained Mr. Thomas.

Research has shown that price policies can reduce alcohol consumption and correspondingly the likelihood of injuries, violence, cancers and even death.

One of the reports' key recommendations is for the provinces and territories to consistently implement minimum alcohol pricing to remove inexpensive sources of alcohol from the market. While some provinces have had minimum pricing in place for decades, implementation of this policy is not consistent across Canada.

"Cheap, high-strength alcohol is often favoured by heavy drinkers and young adults," said Mr. Thomas. "Establishing minimum pricing will deter risky drinking. Light to moderate drinkers will be less affected, particularly those who choose low- to regular-strength alcohol products."

The reports' other key recommendations include:

  • Implementing pricing based on alcohol content to create price incentives for lower-strength, less-hazardous products
  • Indexing prices to inflation to ensure alcohol does not become cheaper compared to other goods over time

The complete alcohol pricing series, including the price policy brief, is available for download on the CCSA website. Other national alcohol strategy recommendations currently underway include the development of Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and the newly announced Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral web resource.

Moderate- and high-risk alcohol consumption is associated with substantial health and social harm that costs governments and ultimately taxpayers billions of dollars each year. CCSA's The Costs of Substance Abuse in Canada study (2006) estimated that alcohol-related costs to Canadian society, including healthcare, policing costs and productivity losses amounted to $14.6 billion per year in 2002.

About CCSA

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) provides national leadership, develops sustainable partnerships and advances solutions to ensure that all people in Canada live in a healthy society free of alcohol- and other drug-related harm.

Contact Information

  • Tina Barton
    Communications Advisor
    Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse
    613-235-4048 ext. 230
    Twitter: @CCSAcanada