Whitehorse Daily Star

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LABEL VENTURE BOTTLED UP – John Streicker, the minister responsible for the Yukon Liquor Corp., announces the bottle labelling program at a Nov. 22 news conference held at the Whitehorse liquor store.

It’s the last call for bottle labels – for now

Concerns from national alcohol brand owners have prompted the Yukon Liquor Corp. to stop affixing warning labels to all bottles and cans being sold in the Whitehorse liquor store, the Star has learned – at least for the time being.

By Taylor Blewett on December 22, 2017

Concerns from national alcohol brand owners have prompted the Yukon Liquor Corp. to stop affixing warning labels to all bottles and cans being sold in the Whitehorse liquor store, the Star has learned – at least for the time being.

As part of its participation in the federally-funded Northern Territories Alcohol Study, the liquor corporation rolled out new labels in its Whitehorse store in November. They warn of the link between alcohol use and cancer risk, and encourage moderate drinking habits.

The new labels were a Canada-first – and attracted national media attention.

Since the launch of the new labels a month ago, concerns have rolled in from national brand owners in the alcohol industry.

“There’s a large range of concerns,” Patch Groenewegen, a liquor corporation spokesperson, said in an interview this morning.

They centre around “legislative authority, label placement and trademark infringement, defamation and damages related to messages on labels affixed to brand-owner products without consent,” she said.

Groenewegen declined to identify the national brand owners that have approached the corporation with concerns at this point in time.

“We’ve stopped applying labels to any new products coming into the store,” she said, discussing a decision that was made this week.

Labels will remain on products that are already on the shelves.

The liquor corporation is working with the national brand owners and facilitators of the Northern Territories Alcohol Study to determine where to go from here, according to Groenewegen.

This phase of the study and its labels were intended to run for eight months, after which a survey would be conducted to assess its impacts.

While industry concerns centre around the new labels, there have also been issues raised at the local level with the study’s impact on longstanding product labels in liquor corporation stores that read, “Warning, drinking alcohol during pregnancy can cause birth defects.”

The liquor corporation has been attaching these labels to bottles and cans since 1991, but stopped doing so in the Whitehorse store in November when the study phase began and the new labels launched.

Wenda Bradley, the executive director of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society Yukon (FASSY), said she was under the impression that the new labels would accompany, rather than replace, the longstanding drinking while pregnant warning labels.

When Bradley realized that was not in fact that case, she approached the liquor corporation –whose officials were very receptive and open to discussion, Bradley told the Star.

“FASD needs to be a focus,” she explained. “It’s a lifespan disability.”

Groenewegen confirmed that the liquor corporation is also working with FASSY as it determines what’s going to happen with the future of the study and its labels.

“As we continue these discussions, we’re also going to make sure we include FASSY’s priorities ... and what to do with labels in general,” she said.

The drinking while pregnant warning labels continue to be applied in the five other liquor corporation stores across the territory at this time.

Comments (14)

Up 1 Down 0

Jango on Dec 29, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Can we invoke a word maximum rule for replies to an article. I would like to call it the “David Dixon” rule.

Up 2 Down 0

jc on Dec 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm

It will be interesting to see what warnings they will put on marijuana bags.

Up 2 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Dec 28, 2017 at 4:48 pm

Mr. Dixon: as of this moment.. everyone still gets an opinion in Canada.. Your 27 paragraphs didn't change my mind.

Up 0 Down 1

David Dixon on Dec 28, 2017 at 9:30 am

Hi: If only one Yukoner who presently drinks alcoholic beverages excessively decides after learning of the negative affects on their health from the Yukon Liquor Commision's consumer education program to reduce their rate of alcohol consumption, then I truly believe that all of the money and effort spent to create the Yukon Liquor Commission's alcohol warning label program will have been worth it.
I am stating this opinion not because I want to praise this Yukon liberal Party initiative because I am a partisan Yukon Liberal Party supporter; but because this education program holds great potential to assist Yukoners to be fully informed how to maximize their overall health benefit by drinking in moderation and responsibly. To Yukon Party supporters who it seems have only negative comments related to this alcohol warning labelling program I would ask to re-evaluate their opinions in a non-partisan manner.

Up 0 Down 2

David Dixon on Dec 27, 2017 at 2:15 pm

Hi: I am very disappointed with all of the negative comments relating to the Yukon Liquor Commission halting their warning labelling program which naysayers can learn about if so desired at www.ylc.yk.ca/labels. This program was a public education program for those alcohol beverage drinkers in Yukon. This website pointed out that some drinkers are unaware as to how much alcohol they can safely consume without negatively impacting their health in the short or long term. I think what upset alcoholic beverage national brand owners the most was the warning label linking alcohol drinking and the incidence of certain forms of cancer. For those interested go to the above mentioned website and click on the link under the underlined word cancer. This will lead one to a webpage where one can read an article " Alcohol and Cancer". This article was a summary of an article in the peer reviewed journal called " Journal of Clinical Oncology". This article clearly reveals research showing a link between certain types of malignant cancer and alcohol consumption. I personally participated in a survey taken at the YLC store on Second Avenue this past summer of 2017. I learned a lot about the safe level of alcohol consumption. I don't agree that this program was a waste of taxpayers money or was a way to garner votes and support for the Yukon Liberal Party. I believe that such individuals should re-evaluate their views on this program.
One final thought. Yes I agree that this program won't stop Yukoners from drinking. This program was never intended to do that. It in a nutshell merely pointed out for those Yukoners who drink alcohol what is a safe level of alcohol consumption that avoids negative impacts on the drinker's health. Alcohol national brand owners have always advertised : please drink responsibly". This YLC education program is providing knowledge to consumers to meet their personal goal to drink responsibly. Is this extra knowledge really so bad? By demanding a halt to this program how sincere is the alcohol national brand owners collective wish to ask their customers to drink responsibly? Are such brand owners fearful of reduced sales and profits resulting from some present Yukon alcohol consumers who decide to reduce their consumption because they want improved health.

Up 4 Down 0

Groucho d'North on Dec 27, 2017 at 10:52 am

For politicians new to the role, it is important to be seen to be doing...something to earn their pay. Little stickers warning of the risk of cancer isn't gonna do it cause most of them smoke too and after many decades of nasty messages on cigarette packages, they still have their smoking addictions. The problem with Liberals is they believe their own BS.

Up 0 Down 3

Matt w on Dec 26, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Another tactic from the big tobacco playbook. Consumers of alcohol products deserve to know alcohol causes cancer. 7 types of cancers. This is important consumer information.

Up 3 Down 0

My Opinion on Dec 25, 2017 at 3:25 pm

I guess the National attention was more then they bargained for. There are problems with just attaching labels to businesses products. I wonder if they have been served with a nice Lawsuit for Christmas?

Up 3 Down 0

Wilf Carter on Dec 23, 2017 at 9:37 pm

This type of campaign in other parts of Canada has less than 002% of changing anything. What a political piece of garbage to try and win voters favor. BS

Up 5 Down 0

Kraka on Dec 22, 2017 at 6:52 pm

Drove by the liquor store today appears those labels have ZERO effect on the consumption of alcohol. This was farcical right from the get go, more money wasted.

Up 5 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Dec 22, 2017 at 5:54 pm

Can Yukoners get a tax rebate on the money wasted with this move? To make up for it we could take that amount off the politicians and senior bureaucrat's pensions and benefits that messed this up.

Up 4 Down 0

Thomas Brewer on Dec 22, 2017 at 3:41 pm

now we know who's the dog and who's the tail...
weak and misguided management.

Up 6 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Dec 22, 2017 at 2:41 pm

This was an expensive.. not well thought out idea... labels on bottles was going to work the same way warnings of cigarette packs worked.. which was..they didn't.. smokers gonna' smoke, drinkers gonna' drink and some label on a bottle wasn't going to fix anything.. I'd rather pay this government to stay home and not do anything at all until the next election. We'll have a lot more money and a lot less trouble from them.

Up 1 Down 2

Big Money Says Jump on Dec 22, 2017 at 2:21 pm

Good to know that big money says jump and the Yukon Liquor Corporation / YG obediently asks how high. I naively thought it was the people through their government that make the rules concerning liquor/ cigarettes,etc. but obviously not.

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