Two things stand out in the 2012 survey on Quebecers and Alcohol: one is how consistent answers have been over the last ten years, and the other is a certain tolerance toward occasional heavy drinking combined with a fear of the effects of regular drinking on health and the development of alcohol dependency.
Attitudes and opinions are so entrenched that many of the 2012 results are very similar to those obtained in 2002 and 2007, or within the margin of error, particularly with regard to the social acceptability of alcohol, the circumstances in which people drink, and even people’s general opinions about drinking. Beliefs change slowly.
As seen previously, more than eight out of ten Quebecers drink, and wine is now solidly positioned as the alcoholic beverage consumed most frequently and by the most people: three quarters of Quebecers now appreciate wine. Beer is dropping slightly in popularity—it is a favourite among six out of ten respondents — while spirits remain the consistent choice of about one in two Quebecers.
The most reassuring information revealed by the survey is that, overall, Quebecers have learned how to make alcohol a part of their daily lives. They have smoothly incorporated a certain model of drinking in their lifestyle and they are increasingly aware of various aspects of their drinking. In addition, they are very interested in learning more about drinking, specifically about low-risk drinking guidelines. Furthermore, we are pleased to note that our position on drunk driving has been strongly vindicated.
Incorporating the value of moderation
Éduc’alcool is obviously delighted to see that its slogan, La modération a bien meilleur goût/Moderation is always in good taste, still tops the awareness charts. The fact that almost all French-speaking Quebecers know the slogan, along with now 85% of no-French speakers, is impressive enough. But the really good news in this survey is how moderation is becoming part of everyday life.
We can be proud of the fact that, on average, Quebecers have just over three standard drinks a week, and they tend to have two and a half drinks per drinking occasion. It cannot be a coincidence that this amount corresponds to the approximate number of drinks after which it becomes illegal to drive. The connection is clear.
We are also very pleased to note that the vast majority of Quebecers drink in places and under circumstances that promote moderation. They tend to drink at home, with friends and in restaurants, to celebrate happy events or when enjoying a good meal. Drinking is associated with relaxation and it is more about socializing than dependency.
The latest alcohol sales statistics in Quebec show a decline in the average purchase of 0.1 litre of pure alcohol per person per year, but a drop of half a litre of pure alcohol per drinker. This is consistent with the fact that Quebecers no longer seem to have the same drinking-related problems observed five or six years ago. Most indicators are even trending downward in this regard, although they are within the margin of error.