Issue: Spring 2024

Earlier this year, the New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) received an invitation from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) to attend the first ever Roundtable on Atlantic Canada and Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health. The two-day event, which took place in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on January 17 and 18, was an occasion to discuss the new Canadian Guidance on Alcohol and Health, released in January 2023, as well as to share ideas with Atlantic stakeholders on how to further promote the topic with the public.

Following the release of the updated guidelines last year, the NBMS released an awareness campaign on the health risks related to alcohol: Mindful drinking, healthier living. The resounding success of the campaign garnered national attention, with the micro-site alone generating over 25,000 visits. The NBMS Engagement team then started working closely with the CCSA and its provincial partners to adapt the campaign for other jurisdictions.

The goal of the Atlantic roundtable was to get stakeholders from New Brunswick (NB), Newfoundland (NL), Prince Edward Island (PE) and Nova Scotia (NS) together to share their challenges and successes in promoting and implementing the new guidance in their jurisdictions, learn from each other, identify areas of potential collaboration, and discuss next steps. Sarah Albert, Marketing Specialist at the NBMS, participated in a panel where she discussed the “Mindful drinking, healthier living. campaign. She was joined by representatives from each of the Atlantic provinces. From NL, Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, and Debbie Curtis discussed their Provincial Alcohol Action Plan. From PE, Meaghan Adams shared their provincial campaign “Less is Best” – a successor to NB’s “Mindful drinking, healthier living.” campaign – as well as their plan for a second Alcohol Forum. From NS, Dr. Kara Thompson, Associate Professor at St. Francis Xavier University, shared her team’s report on strengthening alcohol policies on Atlantic Canadian Campuses, as well as their pilot project on alcohol warning labels.

Other important topics of discussion included “alcohol, the new guidance, and youth”, as well as “alcohol, the new guidance, and healthcare settings”. Based on the responses shared, the CCSA will develop region-specific resources to best equip stakeholders with the tools to discuss and promote the guidance with the general public.

Following the event, the NBMS is looking at ways to expand its ongoing “Mindful drinking, healthier living.” campaign, as well as potential provincial advocacy efforts related to alcohol and health. Simply put, there are no known safe amounts of alcohol, and any reduction in consumption is beneficial. It is our responsibility as a provincial health organization to remind New Brunswickers of the related health risks.

You can visit the “Mindful drinking, healthier living.” micro-site here.

Sarah Albert, Marketing Specialist