Trends in public opinion about alcohol policy initiatives in Ontario and the US 1989-91 Academic Article uri icon


  • Trends in public opinion about 11 possible alcohol policy initiatives are analysed in probability surveys of adults in the United States and in Ontario in 1989, 1990 and 1991. In both sites, public opinion is fairly conservative on alcohol policies, with majorities favoring either the status quo or decreased availability on such dimensions as tax levels, opening hours, sale of alcoholic beverages in corner stores and the minimum legal drinking age. Between 1989 and 1991, the most substantial net change in attitudes was in favor of warning labels in Ontario, although it was in the United States and not in Canada that warning labels were introduced after the 1989 surveys. For some other alcohol policies, public support for restrictions tended to decline in Ontario but not in the United States. In logistic regressions predicting attitudes on each policy with gender, age, education, drinking pattern, study site and year of study, the strong and consistent secular trend for support for warning labels held up; the only other significant and consistent secular trend was against increased efforts to prevent drunken customers being served. Since public support for alcohol controls is crucial to their effectiveness and long-term viability, regular tracking of public opinion on them is needed, along with efforts to increase their public understanding and support.


  • Room, Robin
  • Giesbracht, Norman
  • Graves, Karen
  • Greenfield, Thomas

publication date

  • January 1995