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Easy booze access brings health risks: research

(iStock, Photo)

Researchers looked at the effects of removing Sweden's government alcohol monopoly on take-away sales

UVic projected consumption would go up 20 percent if private stores were brought in

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With our province making it easier to buy booze in recent times, and Ottawa promising to legalize weed, our access to intoxicants continues to increase.

Amidst all this, a University of Victoria professor has done some new research looking into what this could mean for how much we consume.

Sweden wanted to know what would happen if it dropped the government’s existing booze monopoly and instead sold alcohol in private stores or grocery stores.

UVic Professor Tim Stockwell and his team looked into it, projecting that consumption would go up 20 percent if private stores were brought in – 31 percent if you could load up at the grocery store – which could bring health consequences.

“It affects all of us who like a drink,” says Stockwell. “I do, and knowing this stuff is really annoying and inconvenient that you learn things like, even one drink a day or less than increases your risk of eight kinds of cancer, at least.”

Stockwell says we should consider this as we figure out where to allow the sale of pot when that becomes legal.

“The fundamental principle here is the more competition we have in these marketplaces for drugs like alcohol, cannabis and tobacco, the more consumption goes up, and the more harm goes up,” says Stockwell.

The report’s findings could have implications for local, provincial and federal government as more Canadian jurisdictions privatize the distribution and sale of alcohol, and with cannabis legalization slated for July 2018.

Stockwell points out that in Sweden, alcohol distribution falls under the health ministry, which he says takes away the profit motive that exists here in Canada.