Feeny E, Dain K, Varghese C, Atiim G A, Rekve D, Gouda H N et al. Protecting women and girls from tobacco and alcohol promotion BMJ 2021; 374 :n1516 doi:10.1136/bmj.n1516

Gender transformative measures could curb the industries’ expansion into low and middle income countries, contain the burden of chronic disease, and promote gender equity, argue Emma Feeny and colleagues

Women have traditionally consumed less tobacco and alcohol than men because social and cultural norms have stigmatised their use of these products, particularly in low and middle income countries. The combination of changing gender norms, aggressive industry marketing, and continuing population growth in low and middle income countries, however, means that without urgent action, the number of women and girls consuming tobacco and alcohol is likely to rise substantially in the coming years.

This change has important implications for the burden of chronic or non-communicable diseases and injuries, for public health, service delivery, and—given the strong, reciprocal links between non-communicable diseases and poverty1—sustainable development. Consumption of tobacco and alcohol has repercussions throughout life, particularly when it begins at a young age, making it harder to stop or reduce consumption later in life. Such consumption increases women’s risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and a range of other conditions (table 1). Risks can also be transmitted to the next generation: tobacco and alcohol use during pregnancy can have lasting effects on the health of children, who are also more likely to use tobacco and alcohol themselves if exposed to parental consumption.4, 5

Non-communicable diseases already account for over 70% of all deaths worldwide, but this huge and growing burden among women is often overlooked by global health stakeholders, who continue to view women’s health from a reproductive viewpoint. The biggest killers of women globally are cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and chronic respiratory diseases.6 People living with non-communicable diseases are also at risk of severe covid-19 should they become infected.7

Because tobacco and alcohol use are now steady or falling in many high income countries, producers have identified women and girls in low and middle income countries as a growing market.8,9 The global prevalence rates of smoking among women are decreasing, but trends among girls are concerning; in 123 countries, the prevalence of girls using tobacco is higher than the prevalence of adult women, and in some countries, such as Mozambique and Argentina, it is also higher than the prevalence of adolescent boys using tobacco.10 The proportion of men who drink is much higher than the proportion of women who do so, but the global gap between male and female drinkers is shrinking.11

These threats are well recognised, but calls for action to reduce the exposure of women and girls in low and middle income countries to the well honed tactics of the tobacco and alcohol industries have so far gone unheeded.9,12 If this continues, we can expect to pay a high price, with an increase in non-communicable diseases and undermining of hard won development gains. Developments in sex and gender research and practice provide opportunities to not only prevent a rise in smoking and drinking among girls and women, but to break down pervasive gender inequities while doing so.13

Sex specific impacts of tobacco and alcohol, and interaction with gender

To understand the association between women, tobacco, and alcohol, and better protect women and girls from tobacco and alcohol promotion, it is important to distinguish between sex—the biological attributes that distinguish male, female, and intersex; and gender—the social and cultural norms, identities, and relations that structure societies and shape our attitudes and behaviour.14

Click here to read to full open access analysis.

Retrieved from


Topic: #WineMom: Humour and empowerment or binge drinking and mental health challenges?


In this webinar, participants will learn about ‘wine mom’ culture and how alcohol, particularly on social media, is used to subvert the idea of constant perfection that is often associated with motherhood. ‘Wine mom’ culture has grown on social networking sites, where mothers are using this community to discuss their experiences of motherhood in a perceived safe space. However, its growth on social media has also led to the commodification of this culture and the emergence of a counter-narrative that highlights the role that systemic and social structures play on women’s alcohol use and mental health.

We will discuss the ubiquity of ‘wine mom’ culture and its contribution to normalized images and meanings of modern motherhood that may have problematic sociocultural and health implications related to women’s alcohol consumption.

Learning Objectives:
1. Understand the role that social media plays in women’s alcohol consumption, particularly as part of ‘wine mom’ culture.
2. Recognize the dichotomy of ‘wine mom’ culture between support for women and women’s mental health and substance use challenges.
3. Identify how ‘wine mom’ culture relates to FASD prevention approaches, understanding motherhood as a supportive moment to help women reduce or stop their alcohol use.Time

Jul 28, 2021 11:00 AM in Mountain Time (US and Canada)

Click here to register.

Webinar logo

Survey of Professionals on a Public Health Approach to Substance Use-CANADIAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION

Please fill out this survey to help us better understand your perspective on a public health approach to substance use in Canada.

About the survey:

If you haven’t participated already, you still have time to complete the Canadian Public Health Association’s (CPHA) survey on a public health approach to substance use! CPHA is inviting you to participate in a survey to better understand your perspective on substance use. We are currently working on a project to develop tools, resources and learning materials to implement a public health approach to substance use, and we would love to hear from you to better understand your perspective and which topics and resources would be most useful to you.

Why should I participate in this survey? Participation in the survey is completely voluntary. We hope that findings will support the creation of tools, resources and online learning modules to support the implementation of a public health approach to substance use in Canada.

How long will the survey take? The survey should take approximately 30 minutes to complete.

When does the survey close? This survey will be open until July 28th, 2021.To participate in the survey, please follow this link:  


Alcohol is the most commonly used substance among youth in Canada. We wanted to know from young people what they think about the alcohol education that targets them. Alcohol Education Tailored for Youth: What We Heard provides guidance for developing educational resources for teenagers and young adults. 

In 2019, almost half of young people in grades 7 to 12 said they used alcohol. In the focus groups held for this project, young people told us that they want to make informed decisions about alcohol and know how to lower the risks to their health if they decide to use it.

The objective of the project was to build upon knowledge products previously produced by CCSA and co-develop tailored public education resources to support Canadian youth and young adults in making evidence-based decisions about alcohol. We wanted to make space for meaningful engagement with youth from across Canada to ensure the relevance and impact of our work.

Highlights of the report include:

  • Youth shared their perception that Canada’s current Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines do not align with youth drinking culture.
  • Youth-targeted alcohol education ads need to focus on providing facts.
  • Youth use alcohol and partying with their friends as a reward system after working hard.

We encourage you to share this report and its knowledge products with your networks, partners and communities, as well as to connect them with CCSA and its resources at We also encourage everyone to work towards meaningful partnership and equitable engagement with youth to support the development of educational material that resonates with them and meets them where they are.

If you have any questions about these resources or CCSA’s work with youth and young adults, please email


Retrieved from CCSA: Alcohol Education Tailored for Youth: What We Heard Report (


This webinar will provide information to help you prepare for FASD Month in September and FASD Day on September 9, 2021. Information will be provided on Level 1 prevention efforts and how this intersects with CanFASD’s language and media guidelines. Information will also be provided on past FASD awareness campaigns and current CanFASD tools and resources you can adapt for your campaign. You will also hear from an individual with FASD and the FASD awareness campaigns they have been doing on the West Coast.

Click here to register.


This is a summary of the recent article #sendwine: An analysis of motherhood, alcohol use and #winemom culture on Instagram. For a complete understanding of the subject matter, read the full paper (available open access).


“I wine because they whine” is an example of the popular memes shared on social media platforms by women using the hashtag #winemom. These memes and jokes are used to convey women’s stress and frustration with the roles and expectations of motherhood. While associating alcohol with specific personas in the media (including social media) is not new, the rapid growth of #winemom memes in recent years deserves more attention than it has previously received.

In Canada (and many other countries), women of childbearing age (i.e., between the ages 18 and 35) are consuming more alcohol than ever before. Despites the potential health and social consequences associated with alcohol consumption, its use is increasingly being normalized as part of a stress management regime to cope with day-to-day life. Therefore, it is important to understand how the #winemoms phenomenon contributes to this process of normalization amongst women, namely mothers.


The researchers in this study analyzed the content of 40 Instagram posts associated with the #winemom hashtag. They paid particular attention to how wine was used to convey messages about what it means to be a ‘good’ mother and how it was used as part of socially acceptable self-care. They found that:

  • Wine was often paired with behaviours that are associated with being a good mother, such as meal preparation and cleaning the house.
  • Not all women can be wine moms. This persona is tied to being white, middle/upper-class, cis-gendered, young, and attractive.
  • The #winemom hashtag enabled women to connect with other mothers who shared their experiences of needing to cope with the motherhood role.
  • Businesses have realized that #winemoms represent a consumer group that they can sell goods and services to by pairing their products with the wine mom image. For example, marketable goods included matching infant/mother outfits with catchphrases like ‘They Whine, I Wine’, kitchen housewares such as hand towels, and meme-based drinkware with phrases like ‘Mom Juice’ or ‘Mommy’s Sippy Cup’.


This paper is the first of its kind to explore how alcohol consumption amongst women is shared using the #winemom hashtag on social media, particularly on Instagram. Understanding the popularity of the wine mom persona can help clinicians and health promoters to think critically about how women conceptualize the role of alcohol in their lives, specifically as a means of day-to-day stress management. The results of this study reinforce findings that the risk of alcohol use on women (and children) remains an important public health issue that warrants critical attention.

Authors: Kelly Harding, Lisa Whittingham, & Kerry McGannon

Journal: Substance Abuse: Research and Treatment

Read the full article (available open access)

Written by Lisa Whittingham

Retrieved from CanFASD Article Summary: Conceptualizing #winemoms in social media (


OTTAWA, ON, June 10, 2021 /CNW/ – Alcohol is one of the most commonly used substances among Canadians. According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, hospitalizations due to alcohol-related harms and overall alcohol consumption increased during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. High-risk drinking and alcohol use disorder (AUD) have significant and widespread health, social, and economic consequences. The Government of Canada recognizes that the effects of problematic alcohol use present a serious public health and safety issue that affects individuals and communities across the country, especially within the context of the pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced nearly $2 million over two years for three projects in Alberta and Newfoundland and Labrador to address alcohol-related harms, including AUD. The organizations receiving funding are Boyle Street Service Society, the McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association and the St. John’s Women’s Centre.

These projects will support treatment through a managed alcohol program, other substance use disorder initiatives, community training, capacity and awareness building and wrap-around supports, such as improving housing access. Through these initiatives, the organizations will provide assistance to women, Indigenous peoples, and people experiencing homelessness.

The Government of Canada is committed to addressing alcohol-related harms more broadly through a public health approach.


“Alcohol use disorder is a health issue that faces considerable stigma. It is challenging for people living with AUD to get compassionate support, especially during COVID-19. By providing Canadians treatment options that meet them where they are at, this health condition can be successfully managed through these evidence-based programs. These organizations are doing important work, which are helping Canadians reach their recovery goals and live healthier lives.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Health

“Together McMan and Aventa Center for Excellence for Women with Addictions will leverage this partnership to deliver an innovative program that recognizes the unique needs of women in Calgary who are struggling with substance use and addiction. The Journeys Program seeks to improve the continuum of care for women with addictions by providing pre-treatment outreach services, support during treatment, post-treatment wraparound supports, and community education. By engaging family and natural supports, the program strives to increase the overall well-being and long term sustainable recovery for women.”

Karin Matthiessen
Director of Services, McMan Youth, Family and Community Services Association

“The development and operation of the first managed alcohol program in Newfoundland and Labrador will fill a service gap in the province for women and gender diverse people whose lives are deeply impacted by alcohol addiction. This program truly reflects the principles of harm reduction, trauma-informed practice, and feminism that are foundational to the work of the St. John’s Women Centre. We look forward to making this a community-wide initiative, especially through the inclusion of lived experience in all aspects of the program.”

Laura Winters
Executive Director, St. John’s Women Centre

Quick Facts

  • Alcohol use is associated with more than 200 diseases and conditions (e.g., alcoholic liver cirrhosis, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder [FASD], cardiovascular disease and cancer) and alcohol-related harms cost Canadian society $16.6 billion in 2017, a higher cost than tobacco, cannabis, opioids or any other substance.
  • According to recent data, during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic between March and September 2020, hospitalizations due to alcohol-related harms rose by 5%. Between October and December 2020, about 30% of Canadians reported that their alcohol consumption had increased since the start of the pandemic.
  • To further help people dealing with problematic substance use and tackle the ongoing overdose crisis, the Government recently announced in Budget 2021 an additional $116 million for the Substance Use and Addictions Program (SUAP). The funding would support a range of innovative approaches to harm reduction, treatment, and prevention at the community level.
  • This builds on $66 million invested in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement for community-based organizations responding to substance use issues, including helping them provide frontline services in a COVID-19 context. The projects announced today are funded from this commitment.
  • In January 2021, the Minister of Health announced federal funding of more than $1.5 million over three years to the British Columbia Centre on Substance Use (BCCSU) to develop the first National Guideline for the Clinical Management of High-Risk Drinking and AUD. The guideline will help Canadian health care providers quickly identify and address harmful drinking, and treat and support patients throughout their lifetime.
  • On June 8, 2021, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research launched a catalyst grant funding opportunity in the area of alcohol research to inform health policies and interventions. It will support projects related to alcohol policies, prevention, harm reduction and treatment of problematic alcohol use, and key populations and determinants of health.
  • The Government of Canada has also provided $1.5 million to the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction to update Canada’s Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines. The updated guidelines will include recommendations for specific populations, for example youth, middle-aged people, women and older adults. In addition, the guidelines will provide information on health outcomes, such as illness, death and other harms related to alcohol use. The guidelines are anticipated to be updated by spring 2022.

Retrieved from and Government of Canada supports projects to help people living with alcohol use disorder (


Behavioural and technical competencies describe the necessary behaviours, skills and knowledge required for both regulated and unregulated professionals who work with people who use substances. 

The newly updated Competencies for Canada’s Substance Use Workforce, produced by the Canadian Centre on Substance use and Addiction (CCSA), have been revised in collaboration with subject-matter experts, advisory group members, consultants, and people with lived and living experience of substance use and their families and friends. 

The updated competencies toolkit with a new design and interactive web pages for ease of access is now available online. A new tutorial video series explains how a competency-based framework can be used for job descriptions, scope of practice, interviewing and performance management. 

As existing staff are re-deployed, new staff recruited and multidisciplinary teams mobilized to respond to growing challenges and evolving needs across mental health and substance use services, CCSA’s competencies, videos and tools guide organizations in using a competency-based framework for: 
* Interviewing
* Hiring
* Performance coaching and management
* Training
* Curriculum development
* Professional development 

To improve the quality of services for people who use substances, the Behavioural Competencies should be used together with the Technical Competencies, as well as the accompanying guides and tools on our website. We also recommend that organizations adapt the competencies tools and resources to suit local contexts, mandates, population needs and settings. 

To stay informed on further updates related to the competencies or workforce development, please subscribe to the workforce development mailing list.

Retrieved from Competencies for Canada’s Substance Use Workforce – Final Release (