Alcohol consumption in BC levels off, still above national average


When it comes to drinking, British Columbians still like to tipple more than the Canadian average—but new numbers from UVic’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR) show a decrease in BC’s alcohol consumption for the first time in nearly a decade.

After seeing steady growth in per-capita consumption of alcohol every year for the past several years, CISUR’s latest data shows a dip in BC’s consumption for the first time since 2012/13, going from 9.44 litres of absolute ethanol in 2017/18 to 9.35 litres in 2018/19.

CISUR director Tim Stockwell says there could be a few explanations for the dip. “There was a relative increase in BC’s population, but that would only explain the reduction if the increase involved groups who drank less, such as older people or people from regions in the world that tend to consume less alcohol,” he says. “I see it more as a levelling off of the impacts of the liquor reforms that began to be introduced in early 2014 and perhaps a slight slowing of the economy.”

British Columbians still consumed more alcohol than the national average, according to 2018 Statistics Canada data. StatsCan estimated Canadians drank 8.2 litres of absolute alcohol per person over the age of 15, while it pegged BC consumption at 8.9 litres. CISUR’s estimates for BC tend to be higher than those of Statistics Canada due to including U-Brew and U-Vin sales, more accurate estimates of the ethanol strength of typical alcoholic beverages, and more up-to-date population estimates from BC Statistics.

For more statistics on alcohol consumption in BC, including information on consumption by beverage type, venue and more, visit our alcohol consumption website.