Letters to the Editor

Availability and marketing more important in booze consumption

My first reaction to your, Rise minimum booze prices: study (News online) article was: what utter rubbish.

I have since reconsidered that response but now it’s unprintable. I chaired a mayor’s alcohol abuse task force for three years that had a significant impact on alcohol abuse. I can tell you that availability and marketing has a much greater impact on alcohol abuse than pricing.

Pricing is a factor, however British Columbians are already paying excessive prices for all legal alcohol products.

Our government says this provides significant funding (read: millions of dollars) to subsidize a number of our health and social programs. Increasing the cost for alcohol even further in all likelihood will increase the sale of illegal liquor, as is the case with cigarettes. Government studies have indicated about 50 per cent of cigarettes sold in Canada are now contraband.

My other point, besides what was the motivation and who commissioned this study and for what purpose, is why since 2003, has the present provincial government systematically allowed private liquor stores to sell alcohol and reduced the number of government liquor stores?

UVic research has indicated, due to marketing and availability, private liquor stores have contributed to the number of alcohol related deaths. As the research report points out; the private sector is better at the business side than the government, at selling liquor.

Unlike government liquor stores, the private sector is open longer and will tailor its quality and price to its clientele, which explains why Vancouver’s downtown eastside has the cheapest booze in the province.

There have been several attempts by various B.C. governments to privatize liquor in the past 30 years that have failed due to public pressure. The main government position has been that privatization will allow alcohol to be cheaper and more available. So it seems there has to be correlation between the research, the liquor control policy and initiatives if harm is to be reduced and alcohol deaths are to be avoided.

Anthony Mears

Oak Bay

 

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