Alcohol policy 

Canada should have policies that increase awareness about the risk of alcohol-related cancer and reduce alcohol consumption.

Why it matters

Alcohol is classified as a Group 1 carcinogen (cancer-causing substance) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Drinking any type of alcohol – beer, wine or spirits – increases your risk of developing at least 9 different types of cancer including breast, colorectal, esophageal, laryngeal, liver, mouth, pharyngeal, stomach and pancreatic cancers. Evidence indicates regular alcohol consumption over time –even at low levels – increases the risk of developing an alcohol-associated cancer. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your cancer risk.

Many Canadians don’t realize they’re drinking unsafe amounts of alcohol. About 75% of Canadians 15 years and over report consuming alcoholic beverages. Further, over 40% are not aware that alcohol consumption increases the risk of cancer.

What we are advocating for right now

We’re hard at work advocating for stronger policies that will reduce the alcohol consumption of Canadians and increase awareness about the risk of cancer related to alcohol consumption.

As a priority, this includes calling on the federal government to implement mandatory labels, including warnings with health and safety messaging, on all alcoholic products sold in Canada. These labels should include standard drink information, nutrition labelling, risk for cancer and other chronic diseases, and Canada’s Guidance on Alcohol and Health.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) believes people in Canada have a right to clear and accessible information about the health and safety of the products they buy. And many Canadians agree! According to a CCS-led survey in February 2022, 8 in 10 Canadians support the implementation of warning labels or health messaging on alcohol containers as a strategy to raise awareness of health risks and cancer. Warning labels on alcohol products can help inform the public about the risks of alcohol consumption, including cancer risks. Along with continued education, alcohol labelling will ensure that more Canadians can make informed decisions for their health.

For this reason, we’re in support of Senator Patrick Brazeau’s bill S-254 An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act (warning label on alcoholic beverages) and MP Lisa Marie Barron’s motion M-61 Warning Label Strategy for Alcoholic Products. You can read our letters in support of alcohol warning labels here:

Our position

CCS is committed to advocating for stronger policies that reduce the alcohol consumption of Canadians and increase their awareness about the risk of cancer related to alcohol consumption.

CCS recognizes that certain populations are more likely to experience negative effects from alcohol consumption, such as greater physical harms, negative emotional impact, social stigma or discrimination around alcohol use. CCS calls on governments at all levels to develop and implement effective, equitable and culturally appropriate policies and initiatives to reduce the risk for cancer related to alcohol. 

CCS supports the evidence-informed alcohol policies recommended in the Canadian Alcohol Policy Evaluation (CAPE) project.

For our full position and to learn more about our efforts around health and safety messaging, alcohol-specific strategy, marketing and promotion, alcohol pricing, and physical availability, please email