OBJECTIVE:This article presents trend data concerning public opinion on alcohol policy in the Canadian province of Ontario over a 10-year period (1989-98), highlights the currently debated issue of private venues for retail alcohol sales and assesses correspondence between public opinion and actual and proposed policy decisions.
METHOD:Selected policy-related items from nine probability surveys on representative samples of male and female Ontario adults (range of unweighted n 's: 953 to 1,947) were analyzed by means of logistic regression.
We found strong support for the status quo for a number of items, including beer and liquor store hours, corner store sales and taxes. Across all years, less than 6% of the total sample wanted to lower the legal drinking age. Over time, a linear trend showed a gradual but not entirely consistent development of attitudes among the Ontario public, favoring relaxation of some controls. However, contrary to this trend, disapproval of retail sales in corner stores increased significantly from 1992 to 1996. Demographic breakdown shows that relaxation of controls is most favored by those who report consumption of five or more drinks per occasion at least weekly over the past 12 months, and most strongly opposed by women and nondrinkers. Of those who seldom or never consume five or more drinks per occasion, the majority express satisfaction with the status quo.
CONCLUSIONS:These data call into question the suitability of changes in alcohol policy that would diminish controls. It is of particular interest that there seems to be little public support for privatization proposals in the province. Public opinion against comer store sales of alcoholic beverages increased over time.
2001. Vol. 62, no 2, 142-149 p.
Adolescent; Adult; Alcohol Drinking; Cross-Sectional Studies; Data Collection; Female; Humans; Male; Middle Aged; Ontario; Public Opinion; Public Policy