Yukon is now known for more than the 1890’s gold rush and a popular brand of potatoes.
The northwestern Canadian territory is the first jurisdiction in the country to add warning labels on beer, wine, and liquor, informing buyers on safe consumption amounts, and reminding them that alcohol can cause cancer.
The loud yellow and red labels appeared this week on bottles and cans sold at the Whitehorse liquor store. The labels mirror Canada’s low-risk drinking guidelines, which suggest alcohol should be limited to:
- No more than 10 drinks a week for women
- No more than 15 drinks a week for men
- No more than three drinks during special occasions for women
- No more than four drinks for men on any single occasion
While these are the first alcohol warning labels regarding cancer, they aren’t the first warning labels Yukon drinkers have seen. Since 1991, the territory’s government has required the Yukon Liquor Corporation to include warning labels on all its alcohol products.
The labels in Yukon are a good place to start – Yukon has the highest alcohol sales per capita in Canada, as well as the highest cancer rates in Canada, according to a recent report from Yukon Health and Social Services and Statistics Canada.
Not only will the labels hopefully educate and advise Yukon’s communities on alcohol and cancer, but it’ll be a part of the next round of research in the Northern Territories Alcohol study, led by the University of Victoria’s Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research.
Erin Hobin, a scientist at Public Health Ontario who is involved in the study, says past research suggests that just 20% of Canadians are aware of the alcohol-cancer link, especially in colon and breast cancer.
“So the main aim of this research is to better understand if an enhanced warning label can increase awareness of the health risks of drinking alcohol, as well as to support safer alcohol consumption,” she told CTV News Channel in an interview.
The addition of the labels were based on past studies, which found support for stating national drinking guidelines, health messaging, and pregnancy warnings. The studies also concluded people could more accurately guess how much they’re drinking, as the labels state standard drinking sizes and other low-risk drinking information.
“Our research told us that consumers would be accepting of these new enhanced labels,” Kate Vallance, research associate at CISUR, said in a statement this week.
“For this second phase of the study, we will apply these findings in a real-world setting instead of in a focus group, which means more awareness of the health risks of drinking and the low-risk drinking guidelines, as well as a reduction in harmful drinking.”
The final results of the study are expected to be released in the summer, 2018.
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