November 13, 2014 - It’s time to talk about alcohol in our community. The Health Unit is urging members of our community to lend a voice to the issue of alcohol use in Thunder Bay and District. With high rates of alcohol use reported in our district, four (4) forums are being held by the Health Unit from November 19 to 26 to generate community-wide discussions about the impacts of alcohol on our city. The input and perspectives will be a starting point for creating a locally-driven plan for reducing alcohol harms.
“Reducing alcohol-related harms is a public health priority and understanding how we see our drinking culture is an important part of reducing these harms.” says Dr. Janet DeMille, associate medical officer of health. “We want to hear from citizens in our community and start a conversation about this issue. This information will inform a long term plan to reduce these harms.”
Alcohol is the most commonly used substance in our society. The majority of people in Thunder Bay and across Ontario consume alcohol and the rates of alcohol use in our district are higher than the rest of the province: Approximately 1 in 5 adults (20.9%) report drinking in excess of the low risk drinking guidelines (17.1% for Ontario) and more than a quarter of students grades 7-12 (27.6%) report binge drinking at least once in the past month (19.8% for Ontario).
For many people, alcohol is used to mark special occasions, socialize and wind down. But alcohol is also linked to problems that affect our community and the people we care about, including injuries, chronic disease and social problems. In 2010, alcohol accounted for 1,000 to 3,000 cases of cancer in Ontario, and 25% of on road fatalities were caused by drunk driving.
“We all have a stake in this,” says Councillor Rebecca Johnson, chair of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy. “Alcohol is a drug and as such, reducing harm from alcohol use is included in the work of the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy. Addressing these issues is important to the wellbeing of everyone in our community.”
The community conversation will begin on November 19 at 6:30 pm with a forum at the Oliver Road Community Centre hosted by the TBDHU. No registration is required. Three additional events are scheduled in November at different locations. Please see backgrounder for the schedule.
For details on joining one of the citizen voice events visit tbdhu.com.