TORONTO, September 30, 2019 – Today CAMH marked the publication of its new Alcohol Policy Framework with a discussion among leading CAMH experts on the unique impact alcohol policy has on women’s health and safety.
Of particular concern to CAMH experts:
- Different health harms for women associated with alcohol
- The rise in daily consumption of alcohol by women
- The increased availability of alcohol
- Targeted marketing of alcohol to women
- The relationship between alcohol and violence against women
While men have historically been more likely than women to drink, this gap has been narrowing.
“Our 2017 CAMH Monitor report showed increases in daily drinking and average number of drinks consumed weekly among women who drink compared to figures from a decade or two ago,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Senior Scientist at the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research. “Other published research suggests greater increases in alcohol-related harms among women, which highlights the need to consider the factors that may be contributing to such increases.”
CAMH Chief of Addictions Dr. Leslie Buckley looks to increased marketing of alcohol to women as a leading factor.
“A lot of us who care about alcohol use and women are worried about a focus by the alcohol industry to target women,” said Dr. Buckley. “Some are calling it the ‘pinking’ of the alcohol industry, with brand names and logos that are designed to appeal to women. Women represent a growth area for the industry, and unfortunately advertising works very well, especially on younger women. We need to do more to highlight this as a problem, and to monitor alcohol advertising to women.”
CAMH experts also called for greater recognition of alcohol and drinking environments that affect women’s safety, with sexual aggression being a particular concern for young women. Almost six in ten women in Canadian universities report being sexually assaulted since the age of 14. In more than half of those cases, alcohol was a factor.
“Alcohol consumption is strongly linked to perception of physical and sexual violence and women are often the victims,” said Dr. Samantha Wells, Senior Director, CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research “Our research showed that at least 50% of young women experienced sexual aggression, including sexual harassment or unwanted sexual touching, in one evening out at a bar or club. Attention needs to be paid to developing policies to improve how alcohol-related sexual aggression is prevented and managed, and to change social norms about the acceptability of these behaviours.”
The experts agreed that alcohol policy, including alcohol pricing, availability in terms of hours and locations of sale, alcohol marketing, and policies affecting drinking establishments, have substantial effects on health and safety.
To address these concerns regarding the health and safety of the population at large, recommendations from the CAMH Alcohol Policy Framework include:
- Maintaining or increasing the price of alcohol
- Restricting the number of outlets and limiting hours of sale
- Rescinding plans to allow convenience stories to sell alcohol, or if implemented, allowing municipalities to opt out
- Limiting alcohol marketing
- Developing a provincial alcohol strategy
- Dedicating a portion of provincial alcohol revenue to treatment, prevention, and research
CAMH has a self-referral outpatient service specializing in evidence-based medical and psychosocial interventions for patients with addiction or concurrent disorder concerns. Learn more about treatment options for alcohol use disorder at CAMH by clicking here.
For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Sean O'Malley, Media Relations, CAMH, 416-595-6015 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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