Binge drinking, playoffs a bad combination 0
Vancouver Coastal Health hopes to curb the heavy binge drinking seen during last year's Canucks Stanley Cup playoffs (pictured). (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO CARMINE MARINELLI)
Binge drinking is on the rise in B.C. and that's a cause for concern - especially during the NHL playoffs, according to a health official.
"The combination of binge drinking and a sport that can be violent? It's probably not a coincidence we saw violence associated with two Stanley Cup finals in this city," said Vancouver Coastal Health's Dr. Patricia Daly.
The health authority is launching a social media campaign this month to share guidelines on healthy consumption and warn people about the dangers of binge drinking - defined as five or more drinks in one sitting. This comes after last year's post-riot reports highlighted alcohol as a major factor in the events of June 15.
According to Daly, the campaign is timed to coincide with the playoffs and to counter the many alcohol commercials that link drinking to the popular sport.
"Alcohol is a legal product and they can certainly sponsor and advertise, but they always portray alcohol in a very positive way," she said. "I think it's important to . counter that positive message and provide information about the potential harms."
Daly noted those who drink excessively are more likely to suffer violence, injury, sexual assault or commit crimes themselves, such as what was seen during the riot.
Research also shows the average number of drinks annually per person increased to 525 in 2008, from 475 in 2002. Daly noted, however, those drinks likely aren't distributed evenly, but instead consumed during binges - something that spikes during each year's playoffs.
During the riot, there were 114 visits to St. Paul's Hospital - 70% of which involved alcohol consumption. While the numbers from June 15 are often highlighted, Daly said alcohol-related injuries occurred throughout the playoff run.
"We have to address that culture of binge drinking and that's not easy to do," she said, adding the aim of the campaign is to get young people talking about the harms of excessive drinking. "I can get up there and say it's harmful . but it's important to come from youth themselves."
Downtown crowds were "light" throughout Wednesday's game, according to police who reported only four liquor pour-outs, two tickets for public drinking and one arrest for breach of peace.