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Boozy BC: Alcohol consumption spikes in 2014/5

British Columbians are bucking the national trend when it comes to alcohol consumption.

While the nation saw a decline, the average drinker in BC upped their intake by 2.9% according to UVIC’s Centre for Addictions Research. That’s equal to an extra 15 bottles of beer a year and is the largest increase in over a decade.

British Columbians drank an equivalent of 528 bottles of beer, 100 bottles of wine, or 30 bottles of vodka per person in 2014/15.

“Likely it’s partly due to tourism and the weaker Canadian dollar meaning more people stay at home and more tourists come in” Executive Director Tim Stockwell said “But it’s spread across the whole province and I don’t think that’s the only explanation.”

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He says a stronger BC economy may be one factor, but singled out the loosening of liquor laws and regulations over the past 18 months in BC.

“The more efficiency that’s put into the system, the more efficiently the alcohol is pumped into the population, the more efficiently we are admitted into hospitals and die prematurely from alcohol related causes.”

In 2013, close to 24,500 hospital admissions and 1,281 deaths in BC were attributed to alcohol-related causes.

The Centre for Addictions Research says the spike in consumption will increase the annual toll by an additional 655 hospital admissions and 31 deaths.

Stockwell says along with the updated liquor laws, the Province initially promised to take a look at the ‘highest risk’ forms of booze which are most likely to be abused by youth and dangerous drinkers.

“And that’s the cheapest stuff. So they promised that they would revise and revamp the price of the cheapest alcohol, the floor prices, but they havn’t touched it. So that makes any kind of prevention strategy rowing upstream.”

The Centre for Addictions Research points to Canada’s low-risk drinking guidelines: no more than two drinks a day or 10 per week for women, and three drinks a day or 15 per week for men, with an extra drink allowed on special occasions.

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