Alcohol consumption is a public health issue because it causes many health and social harms:
- Alcohol consumption is associated with deaths, chronic diseases, cancers, injuries, violence, mental health problems, addiction and social problems.
- In 2002, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that alcohol was the third leading risk factor for mortality and morbidity in developed countries, after smoking and high blood pressure. In North America, alcohol accounts for 14.2% of the burden of disease in men and 3.4% in women. In Québec, 1.8% of deaths are attributable to alcohol.
- Total alcohol-related healthcare costs are approximately the same as revenue from alcohol sales in Québec; in 2002 in the province, over $3 billion in costs were attributable to alcohol, the equivalent of $416 per inhabitant. Healthcare costs represent 22% of this total, that is, $651 million; this is about equal to the net income from alcohol sales for that year.
Measures to prevent alcohol-related problems:
- Tax alcohol and set prices high
- Restrict access to alcohol
- Maintain state monopoly
- Adopt measures to deter drinking and driving
- Offer clinical services to at risk drinkers and alcoholics