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Pushing back on alcohol while health experts say risk-free drinking is a myth


Looking back, I’m struck by how Canada’s approach to alcohol and tobacco has almost reversed since I was a student in the late 1970s.

At the time, I was working part-time at what was the last thing the Liquor Board of Ontario called a regular store. Before that, the LCBO took the “control” part of its name very seriously. Its second-hand stores did everything they could to keep people away from them. Aside from a select few bottles of wine covered in dust, all merchandise is hidden behind the counter. Customers must search for what they want to buy on a list of everything in the store behind the glass and write the product name, brand number (Mateus rosé is 1086 B) and price. The shoppers then passed their voucher to a cashier, who, upon receipt of payment, passed it on to a salesperson like me, who picked up and packed the merchandise.

I must confess that my colleagues and I are sometimes not very friendly. We have also been repeatedly reminded not to give recommendations or advice to our customers – they are at their own expense.

But by contrast, smoking in offices and shops, including LCBO stores, was rampant at the time. Tobacco manufacturers have sponsored sporting and cultural events, and their advertising and products dominate corner shops and even some pharmacies.

Now, cigarettes are stashed in stores behind empty cabinets, and they’re government-mandated, generic packaging with gruesome pictures of tobacco’s harmful effects on health. All forms of tobacco advertising are a distant memory.

In contrast, in today’s LCBO, control has been removed by aggressive marketing and publicity. Many of its stores are cleverly designed, with attractive wooden shelves and lighting similar to what you might find in an expensive clothing store. The board produces a free glossy magazine of drinks and food to serve with them, and offers customers loyalty points and airline discounts.

It’s not alone. As I crossed the river to Gatineau, Quebec, the province-owned Société des alcools du Québec stores seemed to be competing with their Ontario counterparts in terms of good design, attractiveness as well as promotions and discounts. product price.

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