Wine and beer are coming to Starbucks. I learned this from an article in the Toronto Star. Certainly this is another of many changes combining to normalize alcohol in our culture. The article mentions how alcohol is popping up in a number of non-traditional places, such as Taco Bell. What’s more, the grocery store I shop at in Orillia has a large new section of beer, supplanting bulk food and specialty breads.
Setting aside anyone’s wish for convenience, it is fair to say that the spread of alcohol into all these new locations – coffee shops, hair salon’s, grocery stores, farmer’s markets – serves to normalize and desensitize the presence of booze to all of us, including young people.
Politically, they call this ‘loosening of controls’ – an evolution from the way alcohol used to be sold in Ontario. These controls, rightly or wrongly, allowed for two monopolies to sell all the alcohol: the LCBO and the Beer Store. While the flow of free enterprise and the rise in popularity of cider and craft beer created pressure on the marketplace and actually changed the rules (because it means big money!), these changes will reinforce the sense that alcohol belongs.
Shouldn’t alcohol’s right to belong, to exist everywhere, be relative not only to our demand for it, but also its potential for harm?
Alcohol causes cancer. It reduces the success rates or surgery and extends time needed for healing. It causes liver disease, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. It is a catalyst for violence and crime and accidents and injury. It costs us billions in health care costs, enforcement, and incarcerations. Let’s imagine it was tobacco, which only does some of these things. Just to state the obvious: we are working feverishly, furiously as a society to remove tobacco from anywhere and everywhere.
Why are we working so hard to add alcohol ?