Preprints with The Lancet is part of SSRN´s First Look, a place where journals identify content of interest prior to publication. Authors have opted in at submission to The Lancet family of journals to post their preprints on Preprints with The Lancet. The usual SSRN checks and a Lancet-specific check for appropriateness and transparency have been applied. Preprints available here are not Lancet publications or necessarily under review with a Lancet journal. These preprints are early stage research papers that have not been peer-reviewed. The findings should not be used for clinical or public health decision making and should not be presented to a lay audience without highlighting that they are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed. For more information on this collaboration, see the comments published in The Lancet about the trial period, and our decision to make this a permanent offering, or visit The Lancet´s FAQ page, and for any feedback please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Changes in Alcohol and Cannabis Retail Sales in Canada During the Early Phase of COVID-19
24 Pages Posted: 2 Oct 2020More...
Background: Changes in the use of alcohol and other substances during COVID-19 is of considerable public health interest. This study examined changes in per capita alcohol, cannabis and other essential retail sales across Canada during the early phase of COVID-19, and associations between these changes and different jurisdictional approaches to drug control.
Methods: A time series analysis was used to examine trends in monthly per capita alcohol, cannabis, and essential and non-essential retail sales before and during the first three months of COVID-19 for 12 jurisdictions across Canada. We compared observed sales during the first three months of COVID-19 to predicted sales based on model outputs using pre-COVID-19 trends. Next, we used difference in difference models to estimate the associations between different models of alcohol and cannabis retail systems and changes in retail sales during COVID-19.
Findings: In Canada, observed per capita sales were significantly greater than predicted for alcohol (+9.6%) and cannabis (+14.1%) during March 2020, and consistent with predicted sales in April and May 2020. Essential retail sales were significantly less than predicted during March to May 2020 (average of -7.4%). During COVID-19, per capita alcohol sales in jurisdictions with a private retail system increased significantly (+$8.5 on average, 95%CIs; 2.1,15.6) after accounting for changes over time. In contrast, the relative change in per capita alcohol sales in jurisdictions with a public retail model prior to and during COVID-19 was, on average, $13.3 lower (95% CIs; -22.6,-4.0) compared to the changes in jurisdictions with a private retail model. Similar trends were observed for cannabis sales with respect to retail model.
Interpretation: There was a modest increase in alcohol and cannabis purchasing during the first three months of COVID-19. Changes in sales were influenced by pre-existing policies, and jurisdictions with a private retail model had greater than expected alcohol and cannabis sales compared to jurisdictions with a public model. This study adds to the body of research showing that government-run retail models for alcohol and cannabis provide protection for public health.
Funding Statement: There is no funding to disclose for this project.
Declaration of Interests: The authors have all completed ICMJE conflict of interest forms. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.
Ethics Approval Statement: This project was approved by the Public Health Ontario Ethics Review Board file number 2020-038.01.
Keywords: COVID-19, pandemics, alcohol and health behavior, cannabis use, alcohol policy, cannabis policy
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation