A B.C. addictions expert is raising concerns the province's new alcohol regulations could harm some drinkers as increased availability and competition could lead to excessive consumption.
Tim Stockwell, director for the Centre for Addictions Research at the University of Victoria, says the new changes will drive the price of alcohol down, and consumption up.
"There will be more heavier drinkers. And heavier drinkers will be consuming more with more harm, but not just for themselves, but other members of the community." said Stockwell.
There are 60 ways alcohol can cause injury and death and Stockwell says that injury rates rise when consumption increases.
"Looking at the costs of policing alcohol-related crime and providing services to sick and injured people from alcohol related reasons. The costs of those have been shown to exceed the revenue in B.C by $100 million a year."
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As of April 1, select grocery stores will officially be allowed to sell B.C. wine on their shelves. The first store is located at Save-On-Foods in South Surrey.
While Stockwell thinks one store opening will have a negligible impact, he is concerned about the long-term implications if grocery stores like Costco and Real Canadian Superstore were able to stock their shelves with alcohol.
"With their economies of scale, because they can purchase in huge volumes, they will drive down prices and change radically the whole market for alcohol. Without extra steps taken the prices will go down."
Stockwell says one option would be lifting the prices on alcohol to curb consumption.
Stockwell wants an informed public debate about the future the liquor market should take place before moving forward with meaningful reforms.
"A lot of people have a huge financial interest in privatizing the liquor market. There's a lot of money to be made, and a lot of money to be lost by the government if they don't follow it."
To hear the full interview with Tim Stockwell, listen to the audio labelled "Alcohol Concerns"