From 1998 to 2002, sales were flat, but from 2003 to 2007 consumption increased eight per cent. Direct government revenue increased four per cent. But the balance tipped the wrong way, according to the report.
"A comparison of a subset of direct alcohol-related costs and benefits indicates that health and enforcement costs exceeded government revenue from alcohol by approximately $61 million in 2002/2003," it said.
Statistics Canada reported $5,872,693,000 net income from the sale of alcoholic beverages through March 31, 2011, led by a 12.9 per cent jump in Ontario to nearly $2.15 billion. B.C.'s net income was almost $900 million, up 1.4 per cent. Alberta, which has the Exel-owned private distributor called Connect Logistics, was the only province to register a decline. Net income there fell 4.5 per cent to $683.5 million.
Overall sales were $20.3 billion nationally, including $2.953 billion in B.C., where $1.149 billion was from beer, $978.5 million from wine and $825.1 million from spirits. Beer sales were down 5.8 per cent, but wine up 3.4 per cent. Spirits rose only 0.5 per cent.
British Columbians spend more per capita on alcoholic beverages than Albertans but below the national average.
A 2002 study estimated direct and indirect health and social costs of alcohol at $14.5 billion -- which was 36.6 per cent of total substance abuse-related costs.
BC's high rate of alcoholism
The Canadian Community Health Survey in 2002 found B.C. had the second-highest prevalence of alcohol dependence at 3.6 per cent -- an estimated 122,400 people with serious drinking problems. They would fill B.C. Place Stadium twice, while the remaining 13,400 could fill most of Rogers Arena next door. The national average was 2.6 per cent and Saskatchewan had the highest at 4.1 per cent.
"Underage alcohol use is common in B.C., with 79 per cent of in-school youth reporting using alcohol at least once by age 17," the report said. "More troubling, risky alcohol use is also common among in-school youth; in 2003, 20 per cent of in-school drinkers (approximately 16 per cent of the overall youth population) reported binge drinking three or more days in the last month."
In 2002, the cost of alcohol-related crime, charges and jail sentences was $359.17 million in B.C. and $3.07 billion in Canada. In September 2010, the provincial government reformed drinking and driving laws to become the harshest in Canada. Immediate driving bans and fines were imposed for those found by police with 0.05 or more blood-alcohol content. The Justice Ministry claimed drinking and driving-related deaths fell 44 per cent since the law came to be, meaning 71 fewer deaths than the five-year average.
The government and healthcare partners launched an anti-binge drinking ad campaign in time for the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs with a poster inspired by the Guinness evolution ad, but charting the de-evolution of a binge drinker. The campaign ran despite the Canucks' early elimination. Binge drinking was pinpointed as a major cause of the 2011 Stanley Cup riot.
"Some policy measures are more effective than others, with taxation/pricing, control of physical access, drinking and driving countermeasures and treatment (particularly primary care) being in the first tier," the report said. "Educational strategies, restrictions on advertising and promotion, and community action plans are additional measures that show potential for the prevention and reduction of harms from drinking."
No business plan
Meanwhile, 2012 has been about the subtle increase in sales and revenue channels and a reform of distribution without any release of a business plan.
"It's a classic case of where government regulation is needed because it's not like any other commodity. From the public health point of view you want the high prices but you don't want the greater convenience," Stockwell said.
"Efficient private business is fantastic at getting us to spend as much as possible and consume as much alcohol as possible and they can raise their prices while they're doing it."