Photo courtesy Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.

Photo courtesy Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.

Despite a barely passing grade, B.C. ranks only below Ontario for implementing policies researchers say have proven to reduce the harms and economic costs of alcohol use.

That’s according to a Health Canada-funded study, led by the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISBUR) in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto.

B.C. scored 50.3 per cent, a D-plus, for total policy implementation.

That’s bettered only by Ontario at 55.3 per cent and above the national average among the 10 provinces and three territories of 40.5 per cent.

Researchers said there are seven policy domains with evidence of direct effectiveness to reduce population level alcohol consumption and/or related harms: Pricing and taxation, physical availability, impaired driving countermeasures, marketing and advertising controls, minimum legal drinking age, screening, brief intervention and referral (SBIR) and law enforcement.

The highest grade B.C. received among those categories was a C-minus for impaired driving countermeasures and the legal minimum drinking age, and received an F in two others.

Among indirect policy domains, B.C. scored an A-plus for monitoring and reporting, but an F in the other three categories of alcohol control, alcohol strategy and health and safety messaging.

The study says minimum prices, impaired driving countermeasures and supportive legislation for minimum legal drinking age legislation are among promising practices in B.C.

Researchers says the province should give a greater priority to funding and implementing effective alcohol policies, not sell alcohol alongside grocery items and add mandatory warning labels on alcohol containers among recommendations to reduce alcohol-related harms and costs.

“There are serious risks to our public health and safety from the new tendency to treat alcohol as an ordinary commodity like milk or orange juice,” CISUR Director and project lead Dr. Tim Stockwell said in a statement.

“Our report offers all Canadian governments specific advice on how to maintain convenient access to a popular recreational substance while minimizing related harms.”