Media discussion on warning labels and relative risks of alcohol

The Calgary Herald published an editorial last week entitled Just Say No to Anti-Booze Labels (October 29, 2010). The article reports that Calgary-East MLA Moe Amery is planning to present a private member’s bill that will would result in warning labels on alcohol bottles. The author of this article is opposed to this particular strategy for addressing concerns about alcohol use as it would be “nothing more than a symbolic gesture when real prevention and education measures are in order” and questions “Is this the route Alberta would want to take on a product that is legal, and consumed reasonably and responsibly by most people?”

In contrast, the risks associated with inappropriate alcohol use were highlighted this week when the medical journal, the Lancet, published an article ranking 20 drugs on 16 measures of harm to users and wider society (“Drug harms in the UK: a multicriteria decision analysis”, November 1, 2010). Heroin, crack and crystal meth were ranked worst for individuals while  alcohol, heroin and crack cocaine were ranked as worst for society. Overall, alcohol was deemed to be the most harmful drug. This study was picked up by media across the globe, including BBC News, The Washington Post, CTV.ca, The Vancouver Sun, and The Leader-Post.