Deliver Us…

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The Toronto Star reports that the LCBO has opened up their retailing business to include selling alcoholic beverages on-line, along with the option of home delivery (by Canada Post, it seems, oddly), or delivery to an LCBO store of choice.

This will, of course, allow for the selection of many products that cannot normally be stocked in bricks-and-mortar locations, where shelf space is limited.  Meantime, virtual listings can allow for the ordering of obscure or less popular products that live only at warehouses.

Modernization.  That’s the new-age standard for alcohol.   Such modern mechanisms of e-commerce will likely allow for small brewers and small vintners – such as little guys in Ontario, BC and Quebec – to carve out a market for their products, where the old-fashioned way of getting stuff onto the shelves of The Beer Store or the LCBO just wasn’t or isn’t feasible.

Now, home delivery isn’t new.  Private companies have been offering beer, wine and liquor delivery for many years, in places like Toronto, Barrie and other cities throughout Ontario.  Now it’s just one of the big guns wading into the same business.  Maybe The Beer Store will follow suit with a phone service for home delivery – just like ordering a pizza.

Unfortunately, beer isn’t pizza.  While I don’t fault any little brewer for trying to peddle his wares, it remains that pizza on the average, doesn’t cause seven types of cancer…or cause folks to get violent…or act as a catalyst for accidental pregnancy.

Alcohol is not a regular, everyday commodity, like pizza or pens or popcorn.  Alcohol is a very special thing, that needs to be governed in a way that respects its potential for harm.   Ultra-convenient alcohol seems to me the opposite.

 

A Brave New Way Home

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As the Toronto Star reported last year, there is no lack of controversy as the Way Home festival hits the Orillia area.   This is massive music festival coming to Burl’s Creek, a big open-ground event center, just north of the city.

Complaints from local citizens include the volume of the music, zoning violations when the grounds are used for camping, the re-purposing of prime farmland, garbage, traffic, and other problems.  Essentially, the controversy has been rolling since the property was purchased by its new owners and enlarged.  Check out the highlights from last year:

What’s more, there’s Boots and Hearts, a huge country music festival that comes in August.  Check out the ‘movie trailer’-style video:

Obviously, these are gigantic parties.  Whether or not local citizens are happy with the events in their backyards, it’s obvious that mass gatherings are places for much raucous behavior, drinking and debauchery.  There wouldn’t be much fun at these types of events if those elements were missing.  But yet, we know that alcohol is a BIG part of the down and dirty, and wherever alcohol lives in mass quantities, we have the potential for harm.   Violence, injury, overdose.

This raises the larger issue as to where where social and individual responsibility meet in regards to alcohol.  Do the consequences of consumption belong exclusively to the drinker, or do they also belong to the planners and organizers of the social context, where alcohol is deeply embedded and entrenched?

Truth in Advertising ??

A compelling documentary on alcohol is attached to this Blog.  It’s long-ish, but maybe you’ll find it as fascinating as I did.

After all – the ‘truth’ in regards to alcohol is a complex one. We’ve got it sold by huge corporate entities, or used as liquid leverage to stimulate tourism.  We love to drink it at parties and gatherings, we use to amplify emotion, and to celebrate and to commiserate.

We are addicted to it…as individuals, and as a society who seems to want it ever more varied and available.

It correlates with crime and violence.

It creates disease.

It facilitates a party.

It shores up confidence (or is it impulsiveness?)

Alcohol has very complex and interwoven truths that filter down through every layer of our society and social lives.  It generates interesting and wild stories.  Some such stories have tragic endings.

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Viva la revolución !!

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There are parallels between the Americas and industrialized countries elsewhere in the world, relative to alcohol.   Countries like England, Austria, Russia, Ireland – all ‘first world’ countries in northern climates; all have relatively high alcohol consumption.

Similarly, they have serious health impacts. 

An interesting article from Scotland acknowledges that governments are concerned about alcohol as a social and cultural problem that creates a financial burden.  Beyond that, it hurts people, children, families.  

The question is how to take action.  One option is minimum pricing and taxation, while eliminating discounts and incentives to drink.   Another is control over alcohol advertising.   

Thirty years ago, there began an evolution of the laws around tobacco, because the evidence was overwhelming and people were dying.  As a result, our values regarding smoking have changed.

Meantime, alcohol consumption is up, and the burden of disease is large.

Is alcohol the next health revolution?

Telling the Whole Story

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This is a fascinating document  

Essentially, we gathered the perspectives of people who live and work in Simcoe County and the District of Muskoka, as they perceived alcohol use and alcohol culture.

This was the good, the bad and all points in between.  We simply wanted honesty.

Once all the stories were gathered together, we noticed intriguing patterns, and insightful common themes.  This is a chance to understand how people really see alcohol in our communities, from law enforcement, to medical services, to your neighbour.  Take a few minutes and look it over and you’ll likely find many ideas and thoughts that reach you.

Any which way, we hope this document creates discussion and the opportunity for positive change.

Them and Us, Discuss

mclaren04lfA recent article in the Globe and Mail illuminates some trends in the social-political-cerebral vortex swirling around our upcoming Federal election.

For example, marijuana has gotten a lot of play from the various parties as they acknowledge, work around, evoke spin, or engage in posturing in regards to the evolving legal and social realities.

Times they are a-changin’!  And yes, that may be worrisome stuff to politicians, angling for votes.  But the truth remains that our legal drugs remain vastly more costly to society that the illegal ones, simply accounting for accessibility, acceptability, and volume of use.

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Four out of every five adults in Ontario drink. And among even the semi-moderate, oft-times-sensible, commonly responsible and cool-casual drinkers, we still raise our risk for cancers and liver disease, diminish our health and lessen our years. Statistically.  As a population.  Any one person can escape the odds.

Yes, I am 100% sure it will be me.

Yes, despite the fact that so many of us love it, alcohol is unquestionably a major problem in our society.  Even among moderate adult drinkers it creates massive costs in health care alone, but few want to acknowledge that, let alone use it as grist for the election-mill.   We want instead to compartmentalize alcohol problems, confining them to the young, the addicted and impaired drivers…when the problem isn’t them.  It’s them and us.

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Alcohol, for Fun and Profit

16827367425_7da4053571_kI’ve been doing a little reading.  I’ve been following some election buzz and media coverage, that’s been so much focused on the economy.   I’ve been perusing online articles and following the evolution of the alcohol industry.

It goes on.

It seems obvious to me that everyone is looking to use alcohol to make a buck.  Stimulate economies. Spur the tourism industry.  Lubricate businesses in need of free flowing dollars.  Sell beer and whisky.  Profit.

Everything else seems to be posturing to my eye, and spin to my ear.

Look at a few examples:

I’m not naive – I know that money makes the world go ‘round.   But I cannot determine if our wants and needs are being met – as governments and the private sector work to fulfill our profound desires for a cold one….

…or is it instead that our interests are being dictated or fabricated by industry, profiteers and government lobbyists?  Were we truly, genuinely so unhappy with where we bought beer, historically?  How booze was distributed or marketed or sold?  The hours we might run a downtown street party, or a Jack & Jill?

Since alcohol is such a risk factor for chronic conditions…and such a short-term risk factor in injury and death…I am unsure what to think in terms of anyone’s motivations, save that they all might be short-sighted.

Nobody likes to hear about a guy who fell down a flight of stairs, an abusive relationship, or the death of some young boaters.  Nobody likes to imagine risk factors for cancer.  But money?  We sure seem to enjoy imagining more of that.

 

Photo by Got Credit, Creative Commons.  No changes.