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

Salmon Arm man reported missing by RCMP has been found unharmed

Ken Derkach apologizes for having caused anyone concern

Preparations for flooding in the Shuswap accelerate

A sandbagging machine and a crew to run it have been set up in Silver Creek.

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Okanagan, Shuswap

Environment Canada is forecasting strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy downpours in parts of the Interior

From mouldy attics to giant wasp nests, Shuswap home inspector shares surprising finds

Salmon Arm’s Brad Campbell assembling photo gallery of disturbing discoveries

WorkSafe BC conducted 70 inspections in the Okanagan amid B.C.’s reopening plan

WorkSafe BC has conducted 100 inspections at restaurants across the province since May 19

11 new COVID-19 cases in B.C. as top doc urges caution amid ‘encouraging’ low rates

Dr. Bonnie Henry also announced that two care home outbreaks would be declared over

District offers safety tips after cougar spotted near Lake Country school

The animal was seen on a walking trail near Peter Greer Elementary Saturday morning

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Similkameen winery co-owned by Dr. Bonnie Henry

B.C.’s provincial health officer is part of the original ownership group of Clos du Soleil in Keremeos

Emergency crews rush youth to hospital after quadding accident in West Kelowna

West Kelowna Fire Rescue’s new off-road vehicle was used in the rescue

Shuswap History in Pictures: Floodwater food run

A young boy rows through Sicamous’ streets during the 1972 flood.

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

Most Read