As the rainy winter drags on and outside activity comes to a soggy standstill, the only fun times seem to be the frequent ‘happy hours’ with friends and neighbours; a glass of wine or a drink in hand, kicking back and telling tall tales and regurgitating memories and old stories. Our weekly Thirsty Thursday meet at the local waterfront pub falls into that category. I wouldn’t want to give it up nor would it be the same with a cup of tea instead of a cold, golden lager.
‘You must have heard that the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction published a real spoiler last week, recommending that Canadians limit themselves to just two drinks a week – and ideally cut alcohol altogether.‘
‘Indeed, I’ve heard and read all about this shift towards prohibition funded by Health Canada. The previous guidelines issued in 2011 recommended 10 drinks a week for women and 15 drinks a week for men. Talk about a double standard.’
‘And now they say that even 2 drinks per week are too many. This isn’t about prohibition said Peter Butt, a professor of family medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. This is simply about reducing the amount one drinks.’
‘This type of research by the CCSUA ignores other benefits of health and wellbeing, from stress relief to social interactions, from relaxations to celebrations, all of which make us feel better. Take the fun out of a party and we can all stay home and live healthy boring lives,’ I said, a tad put out. I took a healthy swig to calm my nerves and lower the blood pressure. ‘And just like that, former moderate drinkers are now moved to a high-risk category. Like you and me. That’s a bit stressful.’
‘You got a point but the Center’s mandate is not to find benefits in consuming drugs or alcohol but to find harm and risks to our health.’
‘You can be sure that this concept will go over like a lead balloon from coast to coast to coast, from bars to restaurants to wineries, breweries and distilleries to liquor stores,’ I said.
‘In fact, Canada has some of the highest alcohol taxes in the world,’ Camp said, scrolling through his iPhone. ‘And I quote: On average, 47 per cent of the price of beer in Canada is from federal or provincial taxes. Approximately 65 per cent of the price of wine is due to taxes and on average 80 percent of the price of spirits is taxes. A federal escalator tax on beer, wine and spirits is set to increase prices by 6.3 per cent this year. Welcome to booze inflation.’
‘Ok, here are some true confessions: I’ve been drinking – moderately according to the 2011 guidelines – up to 15 drinks per week – for all of my adult life. More during the hot summer months and mostly limited to beer and wine. To stop now, in my early dotage, would do nothing to improve my health. In fact, if I wanted to start smoking again in my eighties I would mostly likely die before I get lung cancer.’
‘That’s a pretty silly comparison,’ Camp said. ‘My recommendations are simple: have a drink when you feel like, eat when you have an appetite and sleep when you’re tired. As in all things human, common sense usually finds the middle ground and the proper balance. It’s not health vs pleasure but health and pleasure.’
‘I think it’s time for another pint,’ I said.
‘Let’s drink the recommended limit while we can.’
When our congenial server arrived right on cue with the refills I wanted to know if she heard about this new study.
‘Two drinks a week?’ Vicky said, taken aback. ‘I guess I would be out of a job and so would this pub.’
Wise words from Camp this morning. My old pal Joel always said that he believed in “moderation in all things, including moderation itself.”