Reality check: Does making booze harder to buy make people safer?

The Prevention Conversation: A Shared Responsibility Project

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Ontario’s announcement this week that it plans to sell certain kinds of beer in select grocery stores starting three months from now came as good news to some, but it also raised public health alarm bells.

Groups including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and theCanadian Centre for Substance Abuse are calling on the province to adopt a provincial “alcohol strategy,” slow down its liberalization of alcohol retail regulations — and maybe change tack altogether.

“From a public health perspective, a move in this direction really is heading down the wrong road,” says Wayne Skinner, CAMH’s Deputy Clinical Director of Addiction.

Does greater access to alcohol mean greater likelihood of abuse and harms resulting from its consumption?

It’s complicated.

Canada’s patchwork of provincial liquor laws makes it difficult to measure. The country’s been inching toward liberalization — from the…

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