Drink History Canada

Issues in the history of the consumption, manufacture, and regulation of drink in Canada

Distortions: A moderate perspective on an immoderate proposal

The release of the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction’s low risk alcohol guidelines happen to correspond with the second reading of Senator Patrick Brazeau’s Bill S-254 “An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (warning label on alcoholic beverages).” Well “happen” makes it sound like a coincidence, but it seems like this was a coordinated effort. One of the recommendations in the guideline report, which far exceeds the CCSA’s mandate to update the 2011 guidelines, involves putting labels on alcoholic beverages, which is exactly the core of Brazeau’s bill.

Not only is this a difficult thing to do when we are talking about products that are sold at bars for consumption on site (do you put a bunch of warning signs up on the wall, do you paste them to the glass?) but there is a startling inconsistency between the evidence of the report and the idea of warning labels.

I’ve rattled on about this enough (if you’ve been able to stay awake while reading my posts) and I think the Globe did a brilliant job today (31 January) summarizing the main concerns in an editorial. I was very happy to read this perspective.

It is a well considered discussion of the challenges of labelling products that are to be consumed in different ways by different people. If I buy a bottle of rye that says drinking causes cancer, but I use the rye in drinks over the next year, I’m engaging in very moderate and not dangerous consumption but facing a health warning that suggests otherwise.

The globe is in favour (as am I) of labels that indicate how much of a standard drink is in the container (which is half of Brazeau’s bill, too) but not in favour of the sort of warning labels we see on tobacco packages (which is the other half of Brazeau’s bill and supported by the CCSA’s report and some of its most activist researchers).

Check it out. It is currently behind a pay wall, but should be available in a few days. Or buy a copy and paste it on your wall.


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About Me

An English diarist and naval administrator. I served as administrator of the Royal Navy and Member of Parliament. I had no maritime experience, but I rose to be the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty under both King Charles II and King James II through patronage, diligence, and my talent for administration.


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