Bot­toms up

The Compass - - Editorial -

We’re No. 1! Let’s drink to that. No, on sec­ond thought, maybe we shouldn’t. We’re clearly do­ing more than enough drink­ing al­ready.

Statis­tics Canada has just re­leased in­for­ma­tion on the num­ber of Cana­di­ans who told the agency that they drank enough to be clas­si­fied as heavy drinkers.

“In 2015, 19.2 per cent of Cana­di­ans aged 12 and older, or roughly 5.8 mil­lion peo­ple, re­ported al­co­hol con­sump­tion that clas­si­fied them as heavy drinkers. Over­all, males were more likely (24.1 per cent) to re­port heavy drink­ing than fe­males (14.5 per cent) in 2015,” the anal­y­sis says.

The re­port says some­thing else about heavy drink­ing: this prov­ince has more heavy drinkers not only than the na­tional av­er­age, but more than other prov­inces as well.

Keep­ing that 19.2 per cent na­tional av­er­age in mind, think about this: Que­bec had 20.2 per cent heavy drinkers, Saskatchewan had 21.7 per cent, but far and away the leader was New­found­land and Labrador.

Imag­ine what the num­bers would be if ev­ery re­spon­dent was com­pletely hon­est.

What con­sti­tutes a heavy drinker might sur­prise you. For the pur­poses of the study, a heavy drinker is a male who re­ported hav­ing five or more drinks, or women who re­ported hav­ing four or more drinks, on one oc­ca­sion at least once a month in the past year.

The study also looked at con­sump­tion by mi­nors. “De­spite the laws that pre­vent un­der­age drink­ing, youth are still able to con­sume al­co­holic bev­er­ages. In 2015, 74.9 per cent of Cana­dian youth drank an al­co­holic bev­er­age in the pre­vi­ous 12 months and 40.8 per cent of them did so at least once a month,” the study said.

The study also asked re­spon­dents ques­tions about their al­co­hol use dur­ing the pre­ced­ing week - the an­swers might be of in­ter­est to any­one who looks at ar­eas where we could re­duce the cost of pre­ventable health-care con­cerns. “Of the 5.8 mil­lion heavy drinkers in 2015, 73.1 per cent re­ported a level of al­co­hol con­sump­tion in the last week that put their long-term health at risk. Among Cana­di­ans who were not heavy drinkers, more than half (53.6 per cent) re­ported a level of con­sump­tion in the last week that poses long-term risks. On av­er­age, Cana­di­ans who were clas­si­fied as heavy drinkers had 9.8 drinks in the past week, com­pared to non-heavy drinkers who con­sumed 1.6 drinks.”

Oh, and here are some other statis­tics, from the New­found­land and Labrador Liquor Corp.: in 2015-16, the cor­po­ra­tion sold 3,835,000 litres of spir­its, 4,413,000 litres of wine, 2,117,000 litres of “re­fresh­ment bev­er­ages” like cool­ers and cider, and 6,809,000 litres of beer. In sin­gle-year sales com­pared to 2014-15, spir­its may have dropped by 59,000 litres, but the beer, wine and the re­fresh­ment and cider cat­e­gories grew by 551,000 litres, 200,000 litres and 97,000 litres, re­spec­tively. (And that doesn’t even in­clude beer sold in non-NLC stores.)

Sober­ing num­bers, for clearly a not-so-sober prov­ince.

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