Kate Vallance, CISUR research associate and lead author on an evaluation of baseline survey data, places stickers on alcohol containers in a Yukon liquor store. (Provided by the University of Victoria)

B.C. study finds warning labels reduce alcohol consumption

Researchers behind study recommend warning labels should be on all alcohol containers

You go to your local liquor store, grab a six-pack and notice something a little different on the can — a warning label, cautioning you about the negative impacts drinking could have on your health, similar to those found on cigarette packs. Would this make you rethink taking home those brews?

The Northern Territories Alcohol Labels Study, launched in Whitehorse in 2017, saw warning labels placed on beverages in the territory’s largest liquor store and prompted many people in Canada’s highest-alcohol-consuming region to cut back their drinking.

The world-first research from the Canadian Institute for Substance Research (CISUR) at UVic shows that well-designed warning labels are “an effective public health intervention, and can play a role curbing alcohol intake at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

READ ALSO: Canadian alcohol policy gets failing grade from UVic researchers

When approximately 300,000 labels were applied to 98 per cent of the alcohol containers during the study period, Canadian alcohol industry lobby groups got involved. The lobby groups objected to the study, according to a press release from UVic, questioned the government’s authority to place labels on the containers in the first place and challenged the link between alcohol and cancer “despite decades of scientific evidence,” reads the release.

A month in, the study was stopped for three months and the cancer labels were removed. The study was able to continue with the use of only standard drink and low-risk drinking guideline labels until July 2018, and will be published this month in a special section of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

READ ALSO: Vancouver Islanders drink more alcohol than provincial, national averages

Two of the papers in the journal — a media analysis and a legal analysis — look at the industry’s claims and analyze the alcohol lobby’s arguments. When it comes to Yukon’s right to affix the labels on alcohol containers, the legal analysis found the arguments “held no water” and governments had a duty to inform citizens they were selling a product that could cause cancer or risk leaving themselves exposed to future civil lawsuits. The media analysis found that 68 per cent of news stories supported the use of labels in Yukon.

“We found some striking similarities with the tobacco industry in the way the alcohol lobby groups consistently downplayed or outright denied the link between alcohol and cancer in news coverage,” says Kate Vallance, CISUR research associate and lead author on an evaluation of baseline survey data. “That’s worrying because they are not providing accurate information to the public and there are still no evidence-based warning labels available on alcohol containers in Canada, even though people support them.”

Researchers also found that people who bought alcohol with the labels better remembered national drinking guidelines and warning risks about cancer. An analysis of sales data found that per capita sales of labeled products dropped by 6.6 per cent compared to products in control sites that didn’t get the labels.

Researchers behind the study are recommending all alcohol containers be required to carry health warning labels.



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

University of Victoria

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

Just Posted

More than 900 masks made through Rossland’s #Masks4all campaign

The campaign was launched in late April to get more residents to wear masks during COVID-19 crisis

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary rescinds all Grand Forks-area evacuation orders

Evacuation alerts for 1,136 Boundary properties remain in effect as officials monitor forecasts

Pay guarantee removed for some Kootenay on-call paramedics

Guarantee phased out as BCEHS introduces a new “scheduled on call” model

City of Rossland looks to electrify vehicles and equipment

City council passed three motions on June 1 to work towards commitment

No active confirmed COVID-19 cases in Interior Health: BCCDC

Numbers from the BCCDC’s dashboard show 193 of the 195 COVID-19 cases in the region have recovered

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe comapaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Most Read