Alcohol Consumption & Alcohol-Related Deaths on the Rise in BC

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According to a report released this week, British Columbians are consuming more alcohol, and dying more from alcohol-related health harms, than they were ten years ago.

The report, “Alcohol Pricing, Public Health & the HST: Proposed Incentives for BC Drinkers to Make Healthy Choices” from the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research (CARBC), found that alcohol consumption in the province rose 16 percent from 1998 to 2008, compared to a 9 percent increase in the rest of Canada.

This translates into an increase from 7.5 litres in 1998 to 8.7 litres of alcohol consumed per capita in 2008. Thus, the average British Columbian aged 15 years or older drank 525 alcoholic drinks in 2008 compared to 475 drinks in 1998.

Furthermore, perhaps even more alarmingly, researchers found an increase in alcohol-related deaths to 1,993 deaths in 2007, a 9.6 percent increase in just five years.

Specifically, deaths due to liver cirrhosis, which researchers consider the most accurate indicator of alcohol-health harms, rose 39 percent in the same time period.

Researchers also discovered an increase in crack cocaine and ecstasy use in the province, but a decrease in marijuana, synonymous with BC, and crystal meth.

The report, part of the BC Alcohol & Other Drug Monitoring Project, attributes the rise in alcohol consumption to the ease of access to alcohol due to recent increases in the number of liquor stores in the province, an increase in disposable income, and the dip in the price of alcohol compared to the overall cost of living.

Researchers recommend the price of alcoholic beverages be increased in order to stem abundant consumption. Furthermore, they would like to see pricing be in relation to alcoholic content, thereby making drinks with high alcohol content have a high price tag.

Will a bump in the price of alcohol really deter people from drinking or drinking more?

Do you think we would see British Columbians drinking less or, taking a lesson from prohibition, marijuana and other illegal drugs, would we see a rise in a black market?


Alcohol Consumption & Alcohol-Related Deaths on the Rise in BC