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Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young males

Date:
March 18, 2014
Source:
University of Northern British Columbia
Summary:
Canada's drinking-age laws have a significant effect on youth mortality, a study demonstrates. The study's author writes that when compared to Canadian males slightly younger than the minimum legal drinking age, young men who are just older than the drinking age have significant and abrupt increases in mortality, especially from injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

Dr. Russell Callaghan, whose work suggests that increasing the drinking age to 19 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Québec would prevent seven deaths of 18-year-old men each year. Raising the drinking age to 21 years across the country would prevent 32 annual deaths of male youth 18 to 20 years of age.

A recent study by a University of Northern British Columbia-based scientist associated with the UBC Faculty of Medicine and UNBC's Northern Medical Program demonstrates that Canada's drinking-age laws have a significant effect on youth mortality.

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The study was published in the international journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. In it, Dr. Russell Callaghan writes that when compared to Canadian males slightly younger than the minimum legal drinking age, young men who are just older than the drinking age have significant and abrupt increases in mortality, especially from injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

"This evidence demonstrates that drinking-age legislation has a significant effect on reducing mortality among youth, especially young males," says Dr. Callaghan.

Currently, the minimum legal drinking age is 18 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Québec, and 19 years in the rest of the country. Using national Canadian death data from 1980 to 2009, researchers examined the causes of deaths of individuals who died between 16 and 22 years of age. They found that immediately following the minimum legal drinking age, male deaths due to injuries rose sharply by 10 to 16 per cent, and male deaths due to motor vehicle accidents increased suddenly by 13 to 15 per cent.

Increases in mortality appeared immediately following the legislated drinking age for 18-year-old females, but these jumps were relatively small.

According to the research, increasing the drinking age to 19 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Québec would prevent seven deaths of 18-year-old men each year. Raising the drinking age to 21 years across the country would prevent 32 annual deaths of male youth 18 to 20 years of age.

"Many provinces, including British Columbia, are undertaking alcohol-policy reforms," adds Dr. Callaghan. "Our research shows that there are substantial social harms associated with youth drinking. These adverse consequences need to be carefully considered when we develop new provincial alcohol policies. I hope these results will help inform the public and policy makers in Canada about the serious costs associated with hazardous drinking among young people."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Northern British Columbia. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Russell C. Callaghan, Marcos Sanches, Jodi M. Gatley, Tim Stockwell. Impacts of drinking-age laws on mortality in Canada, 1980–2009. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.02.019

Cite This Page:

University of Northern British Columbia. "Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young males." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318140757.htm>.
University of Northern British Columbia. (2014, March 18). Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young males. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 27, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318140757.htm
University of Northern British Columbia. "Canadian drinking-age laws have significant effect on deaths among young males." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140318140757.htm (accessed January 27, 2015).

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