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

All Safe Surrey Coalition council members must ‘step up’ over ‘bad taste’ tweets, rivals say

Slate’s posts on social media in ‘bad taste,’ councillor says

Surrey sports groups grapple with refunds, registration, restrictions and more

‘Our biggest problem is going to be retraining the public because they can’t be there’

Low-cost bicycle repair shop opens in Cloverdale

Cloverdale Community Cycles starts up in church parking lot

First degree murder charge laid in South Surrey shooting death

Wayne Duncan, 46, was killed on Sept. 6, 2019

Surrey mayor denies Councillor’s motion seeking national PPE site for the city

Personal protection equipment manufacturers already spread out through Surrey, McCallum says

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

We’re asking you to lock arms with us, as we look to better days ahead

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

B.C. Hockey League prepping for 2020-21

League reviewing different scenarios and start times in compliance with provincial regulations

Abbotsford International Airshow opening 50-year-old time capsule

Bronze time capsule was put together to commemorate AIA as Canada’s National Airshow

Most Read