EDITORIAL: Message in a bottle

In 1906, as the very dry run toward nationwide prohibition gathered steam, a major soft drink company began billing its signature sugar water as: The Great Temperance Beverage.

Coca-Cola, now associated with type 2 diabetes, heart disease and your dentist’s palatial vacation house, advertised itself as an alternative to liquor. According to their marketing, the drink was: “delicious, refreshing, and absolutely harmless.”

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The point, of course, is that we damage our health in a host of ways, and the government that tries too hard to instill certain virtues often only pushes us toward different vices.

City of North Vancouver council recently took an oddly selective approach to prohibition, successfully protecting its thirsty residents by keeping B.C. wine out of Save-On-Foods. In their decisions, council noted their aim to safeguard our health as well as the financial health of the small businesses that exclusively sell liquor.

This is a bizarre contradiction. If it’s greater well-being we seek, why are we protecting purveyors of liquor while stifling healthy competition?

Also intriguing are the comments of Coun. Jessica McIlroy, who suggested increasing access to alcohol didn’t fit North Vancouver’s goal of being the healthiest small city in the world.

McIlroy is quite right. Alcohol may not be good for us. It is however, delicious, refreshing and absolutely legal. And despite her assertion, we’ve heard from plenty of residents who would appreciate easier access to their vice of choice.

As long as booze remains a billion-dollar economy, this issue will emerge again. And when it does we hope that, like a good bottle of cabernet sauvignon, council decisions get better with age.

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