New era on horizon on BC's liquor laws

August 19, 2013 - Last week, the province kicked off a review of what it characterized as B.C.’s “outdated and inefficient liquor laws.” The government will launch a website in September that lets members of the public share their views, an element that was missing when the province last comprehensively reviewed liquor policy in 1999. The B.C. Liberals have said they want to bring in a new act next spring.

When the public submissions are made, Tim Stockwell, director of the Centre for Addictions Research of BC, knows his arguments will run counter to those who want easier access, the right to drink in public, lower pricing, and even a lowered drinking age of 18.

The centre’s recently released report said B.C. should increase minimum prices by $1.50 a drink at liquor stores, and $3 for bars and restaurants. The report, in the works for three years, also said the province should explore ways to further restrict the number of liquor outlets, limit their hours and consider raising the drinking age to 21.

Mr. Stockwell said he understands many people want convenient access to alcohol. But he said studies have shown instances of problem drinking go up when alcohol is available in supermarkets and convenience stores.

“Competition will drive prices down, and increase consumption. It’s the most efficient way of delivering alcohol, is to not regulate its availability,” he said.

Globe and Mail