Glass of whiskey

Glass of whiskey

University of Victoria researchers say booze sales should be restricted, not encouraged

Liquor consumption is complicated and should be limited, says expert

As most non-essential businesses are shut down, forced to reduce hours, or finding innovative ways to survive, it makes the glowing neon “OPEN” sign of liquor stores really stand out.

Not only are booze sales are up, but on Wednesday the province lifted restrictions for liquor stores (public and private) to expand their hours from between 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily, if they choose to do so (one of the reasons is to support visiting hours specifically for seniors).

The provision of liquor is included as an essential service by the province.

READ MORE: Greater Victoria liquor stores see spike in sales admid COVID-19

And yet, in Victoria, two of the country’s leading alcohol researchers are saying the province should be limiting the hours and accessibility, not expanding them.

“It’s the wrong call they should be doing it the other way,” said Tim Stockwell, a University of Victoria professor who heads the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. “There should be restrictions on alcohol and it’s curious to identify alcohol services as essential when we are concerned with the burden on health care.”

Research shows that alcohol-related incidents are a burden that keep hospitals busy and outnumbered heart attacks in Canada by three times last year, Stockwell said.

He also criticized the idea that some local companies will only deliver if the booze order hits a minimum amount, saying there should be no minimum but instead a maximum.

“In Nunavut one chain of stores has limited sales of liquor to three days a week and 12 bottles of beer [or equivalent] per purchase,” Stockwell said.

READ ALSO: Oak Bay Beach Hotel now delivers groceries, meals

The province calls the expanded hours as “time-limited” to “provide seniors and immuno-compromised populations the opportunity to buy liquor during early shopping hours such as some grocery stores do, and to support physical distancing efforts.

One of the underlying arguments in addition to a Canadian’s right to enjoy recreational alcohol is that there is a segment of the population addicted to alcohol who might experience withdrawal.

Bernie Pauly, another UVic professor who is part of the Canadian Managed Alcohol Program study with Stockwell, noted that about 80 per cent of Canadians drink, and about four or five per cent have a disorder (according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction). And an even smaller number of the population would go into severe withdrawal if they were cut off. “For the majority of the population the recommendation that I would make is to follow safer drinking guidelines,” Pauly said, adding, “What are the real reasons for drinking, if not social?”

For those casual drinkers the Centre on Substance Use and Addiction recommends 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than two drinks a day and 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than three a day as men and woman metabolize alcohol differently. The Centre also recommends drink-free days.

One could surmise that cutting off people who are dependent on alcohol could lead to them accessing health care to deal with withdrawal. But there are a number of drugs that could be prescribed for alcohol if someone has a serious disorder, Pauly said.

For others, this might be a good time to cut down or maintain, and not exceed, the safe drinking guidelines, she added.

Plus, now is not a good time to be impaired or to compromise your overall health with drinking, Stockwell said.

“Is alcohol a good idea when we need social distancing and vigilance about touching?” Stockwell said. “If you have a respiratory condition, you’re more likely to get pneumonia. There’s research on that.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Food trucks will be allowed to operate in several Sooke parks beginning May 1. (Black Press Media file photo)
Sooke’s food truck pilot project under scrutiny

Councillor questions impact food trucks will have on nearby restaurants

A walk for autism awareness. (Black Press Media file photo)
COLUMN: Autism acceptance, not autism awareness

Elizabeth Sparling is the mother of a 24-year-old son with Autism Spectrum Disorder

A vehicle that was driven through the wall of a parkade at Uptown Shopping Centre and into the nearby Walmart on April 9 was removed through another hole in the wall later that night. (Photo via Saanich Police Department and Ayush Kakkar)
PHOTOS: Vehicle driven into Saanich Walmart removed after two trapped workers rescued

Crews cut new hole in parkade wall to remove vehicle safely

Tons of bottles were donated during bottle drives in Sooke and Langford on March 27. The funds raised from the drives will help a local family stay with their daughter during her leukemia treatments in Vancouver. (Photos: Glendora Scarfone)
Sooke, Langford bottle drives help cover family’s costs of staying with daughter during cancer treatments

More than $11,900 raised to help Shae Hanilton’s family stay with her in Vancouver

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Most Read