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Increasing alcohol access through LCBO online sales and delivery

July 28, 2016

The Toronto Star reports that the LCBO has opened up their retailing business to include selling alcoholic beverages on-line, along with the options of home delivery by Canada Post, or delivery to an LCBO store of choice.

This will allow for the selection of many products that cannot normally be stocked in bricks-and-mortar locations, where shelf space is limited.  Virtual listings will allow for the ordering of obscure or less popular products that live only at warehouses.
Modernization.  That’s the new-age standard for alcohol.   Modern mechanisms of e-commerce will likely allow for small brewers and small vintners – such as producers in Ontario, BC and Quebec – to carve out a market for their products, where the standard method of getting products onto the shelves of The Beer Store or the LCBO is not feasible.

Home delivery of alcohol isn’t a new development.  Private companies have been offering beer, wine and liquor delivery for many years, in places like Toronto, Barrie and other cities throughout Ontario.   It follows that perhaps the Beer Store will eventually follow suit with a phone or e-service for home delivery, similar to ordering pizza.

Unfortunately, beer isn’t pizza.  On the contrary, pizza doesn’t cause seven types of cancer…or cause folks to get violent…or act as a catalyst for accidental pregnancy.

Alcohol is not a regular, everyday commodity, like pizza or pens or popcorn.  Alcohol is a very particular product which needs to be governed in a way that respects its potential for harm in our communities. The best practices to prevent against such harms include controlling availability, increasing price and limiting marketing.  Increased access equals increased social and individual consequences equals increased costs and burdens to society.  Public Health professionals are waiting for the Provincial Alcohol Strategy to be released, and have long advocated for coordinated efforts to ensure Ontario’s alcohol-related harms don’t reach a cost too high.