Comparing Alcohol Marketing and Alcohol Warning Message Policies Across Canada

Subst Use Misuse. 2017 Aug 24;52(10):1364-1374. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1281308. Epub 2017 Apr 13.


Background: In order to reduce harms from alcohol, evidence-based policies are to be introduced and sustained.

Objectives: To facilitate the dissemination of policies that reduce alcohol-related harms by documenting, comparing, and sharing information on effective alcohol polices related to restrictions on alcohol marketing and alcohol warning messaging in 10 Canadian provinces.

Methods: Team members developed measurable indicators to assess policies on (a) restrictions on alcohol marketing, and (b) alcohol warning messaging. Indicators were peer-reviewed by three alcohol policy experts, refined, and data were collected, submitted for validation by provincial experts, and scored independently by two team members.

Results: The national average score was 52% for restrictions on marketing policies and 18% for alcohol warning message policies. Most provinces had marketing regulations that went beyond the federal guidelines with penalties for violating marketing regulations. The provincial liquor boards' web pages focused on product promotion, and there were few restrictions on sponsorship activities. No province has implemented alcohol warning labels, and Ontario was the sole province to have legislated warning signs at all points-of-sale. Most provinces provided a variety of warning signs to be displayed voluntarily at points-of-sale; however, the quality of messages varied. Conclusions/Importance: There is extensive alcohol marketing with comparatively few messages focused on the potential harms associated with alcohol. It is recommended that governments collaborate with multiple stakeholders to maximize the preventive impact of restrictions on alcohol marketing and advertising, and a broader implementation of alcohol warning messages.

Keywords: Alcohol; Canada; inter-provincial comparison; marketing; warning messages.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholic Beverages*
  • Canada
  • Humans
  • Marketing / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Policy Making*
  • Product Labeling / legislation & jurisprudence*