Researchers behind the latest guidance on alcohol useI want update the findings on their website to inform the public about safe levels of consumption.
And federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos agrees that Canadians should have access to that “important advice.”
The Canadian Center on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) released a report funded by Health Canada in January saying that scientific evidence from around the world suggests that no amount of alcohol is safe and that low risk is defined as two drinks per week, instead of two. drinks per day, based on their previously recommended limits as of 2011. But the above information remains on the federal agency’s site.
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Duclos said people need access to the latest and most robust data online to make decisions about alcohol use and well-being.
“I think that all Canadians deserve to know what the experts believe,” he said in an interview. “In the end, it is the people who decide. They need easy access to the kind of information that matters to them.”
However, Duclos said he couldn’t say if the site would be updated. It was referred to Minister for Mental Health and Addiction Carolyn Bennett, but a spokeswoman for her said the minister was not available for comment.
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In a statement, Bennett’s office said the government “will continue to engage Canadians in policies to address alcohol-related harm and determine the best approaches to disseminate information about the risks associated with alcohol use.”
“We believe it is essential to do this work before proceeding to finalize specific targeting tools and communication methods.”
However, Bennett has not committed to requiring warning labels on alcohol containers, as recommended in the report. He said in February that he hoped the industry would voluntarily take up the labeling issue.
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Dr. Peter Butt, who co-chaired the CCSA guidance project, said Health Canada should provide basic information to show the federal government’s support for the project it paid for.
“We are talking about a cultural and political change that does not happen overnight. But you know, people would like to see the government do the right thing,” she said of replacing previous guidance, which set weekly limits of 15 standard drinks for men and 10 for women.
“I’m sure Health Canada is dealing with this like people did when the guidance came out,” Butt said, adding that the evidence the researchers considered raises multiple questions: “What do we need to do to answer this? What is our responsibility? And where do we land in terms of tolerating risk, politically and economically instead of doing the right thing?
He called alcohol a “complex product” in the way it is marketed, including as a potentially high-risk product that is linked to health conditions and rising health care costs.
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Butt also questioned Bennett’s position to leave the issue of warning labels to the alcohol industry.
“This is not providing any guidance at all. This is just going to kick the can down the road. And what do you think the tobacco industry would have done if they had been told to voluntarily put labels on their cigarette packs? said Butt, who is also a clinical associate professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. His clinical and research work focuses on substance use disorders.
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Wine Growers of Canada has said it is developing a QR code that could be voluntarily placed on alcohol packaging to direct consumers to a site warning about the association of alcohol with increased long-term risk of serious illness and possible negative effects. in relationships.
Butt called that approach the equivalent of “infomercials” on websites intended to promote the industry’s financial interests rather than provide consumers with the information they need directly on alcohol packaging.
“Alcohol is not an ordinary product. It has a story. It is embedded in our culture. There is an economy attached to that,” he said.
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Dr. Tim Naimi, director of the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) at the University of Victoria, said the latest guidance is based on scientific data and could be used to set policies, such as federal taxation, physical availability of alcohol and treatment interventions to minimize its harm.
“I certainly hope that Health Canada will step up and play an active role in at least this aspect of making things better,” he said of the agency that publishes the updated CCSA guidance, for which he provided expertise.
Preliminary results from CISUR’s latest edition of the ongoing Canada Alcohol Policy Assessment research project, which assesses how well provincial and federal governments are implementing policies, show that all 13 provinces and territories are selling alcohol at a loss , which means taxpayers are subsidizing sales, Naimi said.
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“There is a lot to be done in Canada with regard to improving people’s health and well-being with respect to alcohol. And I think targeting is an important part of reshaping that kind of conversation. So, of course, I’m worried about word getting out.”
The old guidelines were associated with harm to health, Naimi said, adding: “I really can’t explain why (Health Canada) wouldn’t at least publish the new ones.”
Catherine Paradis, acting director of the CCSA, who, along with Butt, led the guidance project, said plans are underway to launch an awareness campaign to educate the public online, through medical offices and various agencies about the risks. related to alcohol consumption.
“We’re getting tons of applications,” he said of interest from organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society and the Canadian Liver Foundation.
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