A community advisory group that was launched several years ago to reduce harm from alcohol use has added cannabis and tobacco to its draft action plan.
The Yarmouth County Municipal Alcohol Project is a partnership between municipalities, district health authorities, Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness and the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities.
Larry Phillips - prevention and health promotion co-ordinator with Mental Health and Addictions, provided an update on the project and presented a draft community action plan to the Municipality of Yarmouth on Feb. 14.
“In terms of the harms and impacts that substances can have, alcohol and tobacco clearly show that as you increase access you also increase consumption and that in turn increases the harms,” said Phillips.
He added that in terms of alcohol, more impaired driving, as well as sexual and physical violence, could be seen with increased consumption.
For cannabis, an increase in impaired driving could result. According to 2015 statistics presented by Phillips, Nova Scotia, at 14 per cent, has a higher rate for cannabis use than the average for Canada (12 per cent).
The southwest region of Nova Scotia has a 31 per cent incidence of heavy drinking (five or more drinks on at least one occasion per month). Other areas of the province range from 25 to 34 per cent.
Phillips says the draft action plan is designed to be flexible and to provide some structure and guidance but also to be adaptable to new information.
The plan identifies priority action areas, based on research and sound health protection principles.
The intent of the project committee is to have approval to adopt a plan by March 2018, to allow time to start implementing an approved plan before the legalization of cannabis later this summer.
Phillips will be presenting information on the Yarmouth County Municipal Alcohol Project to the Municipality of Argyle on Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.
Municipal Alcohol Project Background
Click here for more information on the provincewide Municipal Alcohol Project