Implementing a straightforward, evidence-based bylaw to restrict late-night alcohol sales is a sensible first step to address alcohol-related harm.
While alcohol plays a role in many social and cultural celebrations and ceremonies, and provides revenue for Alberta, it also costs our society dearly through premature death, injury and the social harms that can arise from alcohol misuse.
Alcohol contributes to many social, health and economic costs to taxpayers. Everything from assaults, domestic violence, injuries, various cancers and high blood pressure, to insurance and court costs is impacted by alcohol.
I agree with Ponoka News editor George Brown that alcohol is a complicated issue and that alcohol-related problems require a comprehensive approach.
Reducing availability by limiting hours of service for alcohol sales is a great start.
There is plenty of research in Canada and abroad showing late-night alcohol sales contribute to problems like impaired driving crashes, dangerously high blood-alcohol concentrations in young males, violence, falls and property damage. On a more local level, preliminary data show that after Wetaskiwin enacted their Business Hours Bylaw, there was a reduction in motor vehicle collisions and associated injuries, assaults, self-harm and impaired driving charges.
This isn’t surprising. It is doubtful late-night sales are catering to the average Albertan who consumes alcohol responsibly over a meal with friends or while watching a hockey game.
Private industry in all sectors has incurred costs to protect the well being of their staff, customers and community. On a voluntary or involuntary basis, businesses have provided products and services like air bags and electronic stability controls in cars and sanitation practices for food. They have provided security measures to protect staff from violent crime and implemented systems to reduce air and water pollution. Ponoka’s liquor retailers will still be able to run viable businesses and serve Ponoka residents with convenience between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.
Alcohol-related injury is a significant problem in Ponoka as it is in many communities throughout Alberta. Implementing a straightforward, evidence-based bylaw to restrict late-night alcohol sales is a sensible first step to address alcohol-related harms and their rippling effects on Ponoka and area residents.
Don Voaklander, PhD, director,
Alberta Centre for Injury Control &Research