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Alcohol pricing and public health in Canada: Saving lives while raising government revenues?

December 6, 2012 (Toronto) – Alcohol costs the Canadian economy $14.6 billion in indirect health care and social costs each year – and according to the World Health Organization, it is a leading risk factor for disability and disease in high income countries like Canada, second only to tobacco. 

Research indicates that pricing and taxation are among the most effective policy interventions to decrease the harms related to alcohol use. Internationally, governments are looking at minimum pricing policies to mitigate the illnesses, injuries and social problems associated with alcohol misuse.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), in collaboration with the Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) and the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA), will explore minimum pricing policies at a seminar on Monday, December 10, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at CAMH (33 Russell Street, Toronto, Ontario - Room 2029 ‐ The Meeting Centre).

The seminar will also be broadcast live via Ustream

A new report led by collaborators from the University of Sheffield, England to be released at the seminar estimates that if the minimum price of alcohol in Ontario was slightly increased to $1.50 per standard drink, there would be 31 fewer alcohol-related deaths, 1393 fewer alcohol-related hospital admissions and 1687 fewer alcohol-related crimes committed in the first year. It is also estimated that there would be increases in both provincial and federal government revenue. For a moderate drinker this would cost an extra $12.85 and for a harmful drinker an extra $201.55 per year. Larger benefits were estimated after 10 years. Similar types of benefit were estimated if this policy was introduced in British Columbia. Were the alcohol retail systems in these provinces further privatized it would be much harder to implement minimum price policies effectively.

The seminar will also provide an overview of the latest results from an international research team investigating the impact of alcohol pricing policies on public health and economic outcomes, including:

  • the burden of disease attributable to alcohol in Canada,
  • public opinion on alcohol policies,
  • new provincial case studies linking price changes and health outcomes,
  • an overview of alcohol pricing policies in Canada, and
  • a Canadian Alcohol Policy Model designed to predict the health and crime prevention implications of alternative provincial alcohol policies.

 

Featured speakers:

  • Norman Giesbrecht, Senior Scientist, Social & Epidemiological Research Dept., CAMH
  • John Holmes, Research Fellow, School of Public Health, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Daniel McManus-Hill, Research Associate, School of Public Health, University of Sheffield, UK
  • Jürgen Rehm, Director, Social & Epidemiological Research Dept., CAMH
  • Tim Stockwell, Scientist and Director, CARBC
  • Gerald Thomas, Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst, CCSA

 

Panelists:

  • Barry Goodwin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Finance, Province of Ontario
  • Heather Manson, Chief, Health Promotion, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention, Public Health Ontario
  • Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Canada (MADD)

 

*Speakers and panelists will be available for interview beginning at 12:30p.m.

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, as well as one of the world's leading research centres in its field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental health and addiction issues. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please visit www.camh.ca.

The Centre for Addictions Research of BC (CARBC) at the University of Victoria is a multidisciplinary centre dedicated to the study of psychoactive substance use and addiction in order to support community-wide efforts to promote health and reduce harm. CARBC Scientists are drawn from Psychology, Sociology, Community Medicine, Nursing, Anthropology, Epidemiology, Criminology and Health Economics. The centre provides training to over 30 graduate and undergraduate students from these disciplines and also collaborates with other centres in Canada and overseas. Alcohol epidemiology and policy is an area of special interest at CARBC, please visit www.carbc.ca for more information.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) provides national leadership, develops sustainable partnerships and advances solutions to ensure that all people in Canada live in a healthy society free of alcohol- and other drug-related harm.

For more information and to confirm attendance, media contact:

Michael Torres, CAMH Media Relations, 416-595-6015 or media@camh.net

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