QUEBEC -- The province of Quebec is considering ways to restrict the sale of sugary alcohol beverages and regulate the advertising and promotion of these drinks.
The action comes in the wake of an increase in young people being treated for acute alcohol intoxication in emergency rooms and the death of a 14-year-old girl in Laval, Quebec, in late February after drinking the beverages.
According to the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ), more than 2,300 young people, ages 12 through 24, were treated for acute intoxication from Jan. 1 through Nov. 26, 2017. Nearly one-fifth of them were younger than 18.
In the death of the 14-year-old, the incident was linked to am 11% alcohol drink with guarana called Fckdup. The manufacturer has since taken the product out of production.
"We are witnessing a collective awareness of this issue," said Minister of Public Safety Martin Coiteux. "With Bill 170, we have an opportunity to act quickly, an opportunity not to be missed. In addition to the measures proposed in this bill, the government intends to make amendments to limit access to [high-sugar, high-alcohol] beer ... and increase the powers of intervention of the [government] so that it can act promptly."
Bill 170, which was outlined March 13, would:
- Prohibit the sale of sweetened beer blends of more than 7% alcohol in grocery stores and convenience stores. This does not apply to craft or traditional beers with a high alcohol content.
- Increase the powers of intervention of the Liquor, Racing and Games Board, including the power to recall or seal and order the destruction of alcohol beverages.
- Review in depth the province's promotion, advertising and educational programs for alcohol beverages.
"We have a duty to take concrete measures because the INSPQ report shows some alarming figures for severe intoxication related to alcohol," said Lucie Charlebois, minister responsible for rehabilitation, youth protection, public health and healthy lifestyles. "These situations can have serious consequences, especially for young people, and that is why we are acting now to better intervene, but also to protect them and prevent other unfortunate events."