New Alcohol Regulations Target Binge Drinking in Alberta
Amendments to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission policies come into effect today.
The new rules, which are explicitly aimed at curbing binge drinking, will create a number of changes to how alcohol is served in licenced establishments throughout the province.
As of today, there will be new minimum prices established for booze:
- Spirits: $2.75 per ounce
- Wine: $0.35 per ounce (works out to $1.75/glass)
- Draught beer: $0.16 per ounce (works out to $3.20/pint)
- Canned/Bottled Beer and coolers: $2.75 per 12-ounce bottle or can
These minimum prices will eliminate cheap drink specials being offered by bars that the Alberta government says contribute to irresponsible drinking.
In addition to minimum drink prices, limits will be imposed on happy hours. Bars will not be allowed to sell drinks for less than their regular price after 8pm. Of course, at no time will the bar be allowed to reduce its price for alcohol below the established minimums.
Perhaps most significantly of all, the rules will place limits on how much patrons will be allowed to purchase before last call. Bars will not be allowed to sell or serve more than one bottle of beer or two ounces of liquor to a patron after 1 a.m.
Despite the potential effect on revenues, representatives of the affected industry are getting behind the new rules. This is because of the annoying habit of drunk people creating disturbances inside and outside of their establishments, which pose a threat to employees, patrons, and the general public.
The CBC News quotes Mike Shimka, vice-president of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association, as saying:
“These changes have great potential to reduce the public order problems associated with binge drinking … Most of us would never guzzle a tray full of cheap highballs just before closing time, but many of us have shared a sidewalk with someone who has. These new changes should make closing times outside bars a lot more peaceful.”
The CBC says that impetus for the new limits on alcohol consumption in bars came after two police officers in Edmonton were attacked several months ago while trying to break up a fight outside a bar.