AOD project | alcohol consumption in BC

The alcohol consumption component of the BC alcohol and other drug (AOD) monitoring project assembles time-series data on alcohol sales in different geographic regions of British Columbia. Such data can be used to better understand epidemiological issues related to alcohol consumption, policy development, evaluation and interventions.

Key findings from this component can be found in facts & stats/alcohol consumption in BC.

Our interactive trend analyzer allows you to explore and compare the impacts and statistical trends of alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use for different groups of people in different parts of BC, including maps of alcohol consumption. 


The estimates of per capita litres of absolute alcohol consumption in health regions in British Columbia

 This report presents the estimates of per capita litres of absolute alcohol consumption for 89 local health areas (LHAs), 16 health service delivery areas (HSDAs), 5 health authorities (HAs) and the whole province in the province of British Columbia (BC) of Canada during the period from 2002 to 2016 based on the alcohol sale data and the Ubrew/Uvin data obtained from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch.

1. Methods

1.1. Alcohol sales data

The estimates of total absolute alcohol consumption for health regions in BC in this report were based on two data sources, the sale alcohol data from the BC Liquor Distribution Branch and the Ubrew/Uvin data from the BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch. Both of these branches report to the Ministry of Public safety and Solicitor General.

1.1.1. Sale data

The BC alcohol sales data were obtained from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) which regulates the distribution, importation and retailing of beverage alcohol in BC and operates over 200 government liquor stores in the province. The data were collapsed by the Liquor Distribution Branch into 89 BC local health areas (LHAs) and into 4 or 5 week periods for the fiscal years from 2002 to 2017. The health structure file was used to merge alcohol consumption data by LHA into HSDAs and HAs in order to estimate alcohol consumption for LHAs, HSDAs and HAs. The data included the litres of absolute alcohol sold at off-site government and private liquor stores, and on-premise establishments for the fiscal years 2002-2016. Alcohol sales were broken down by type of beverage (beer, cooler, spirit and wine), and within each beverage type, with groupings based on the percent of alcohol for each product. The number of establishments by take-out premises (take-out government liquor stores and private liquor stores) and two categories of on-premise (restaurant and bar) sales were also included.

1.1.2. Ubrew and Uvin data

U-Brew and U-Vin data were obtained from the Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General which issues licenses in BC for making and selling liquor and supervises the service of liquor in licensed establishments. The data in litres of beverage volumes for beers, ciders and wines were provided for municipalities by the LCLB. The Ubrew and Uvin data for 2008-2015 were unavailable, and extrapolations were used for estimates. The beers, ciders and wines in beverage volume in litres from Ubrew and Uvin were provided and conversion factors for these beverages were used to convert the beverages to absolute alcohol consumption in litres. The volume of absolute alcohol from Ubrew/Uvin production was calculated with conversion factors of 5.04% for beer and 6.77% for ciders, and 12.53% for wines.

1.2. Population data

Provincial population data, classified into 89 LHAs were obtained from BC STATS ( The data set consists of population estimates for years 1986-2016 which incorporate information from the 1986, 1991, 1996, 2001, 2006 and 2011 Censuses of Canada. BC Stats produces sub-provincial population estimates using the Generalized Estimates System (GES) on an annual basis. These sub-provincial population estimates are based on the 2011 Census counts adjusted for census net undercoverage and incompletely enumerated Indian Reserves to which is added the estimated demographic growth for the period from May 10, 2011, to July 1, 2016. Sub-provincial estimates back to 2012 have been revised to reflect the updated B.C. level population estimates released in September 2015. These data were used to calculate per capita alcohol consumption for residents aged 15 years and over for these districts from July 1st to June 30th of following year for each study year (2002 to 2016).

1.3. Statistical analyses

 There are a total of 5 HAs, 16 HSDAs and 89 LHAs in BC. Per capita alcohol consumption for all these health areas from calendar years 2002 to 2016 was estimated by taking total absolute alcohol consumption in each year and dividing it by population aged 15 years old and over in each area.2 The alcohol consumption for years 2002 and the first three months of 2003 was estimated based on total alcohol consumption for each LHA by month and the proportion of alcohol consumption in each LHA by month in years 2004-2011. The alcohol and population data for LHAs in each year within each HSDA and HA were aggregated to estimate per capital alcohol consumption for HSDAs and HAs each year. Because this estimate procedure of the consumption for years 2002-2016 has been changed and the updated population dataset from the BC STATS was used, the per capita alcohol consumption for some areas has been changed compared to the estimate last year. Per capita alcohol for Nisag’a was combined with Telegraph Creek because of small number of outlets.

Per capita alcohol consumption was calculated for the whole province for calendar years 2002-2016 and fiscal years 2002/03 – 2016/17. The estimates were done by outlet types (restaurant, bar, government liquor store, private liquor store and Ubrew/Uvin) for calendar years 2002-2016.

Per capita low priced alcohol consumption ($1.14 per drink=17.05 or $66.67 per litre ethanol; CPI adjusted, CPI in 2003=100) was also estimated for the province.


1. BC Stats. Population Estimates. BC Stats. Available from URL: Accessible 20 November 2017; 2017.

2. Stockwell T, Chikritzhs T. International guide for monitoring alcohol consumption and related harm. Geneva: World Health Organization. Available from URL: Accessible 13 December 2016; 2000.