Montreal, January 9, 2012 – Today marks the launch of the most ambitious Éduc’alcool campaign ever, intended to publicize as widely as possible the “2-3-4-0” low-risk drinking formula. The ultimate purpose is to make Quebecers aware of how important it is not to exceed the recommended limits, and to reverse a trend showing an increase in excessive drinking in Quebec.

Overall, the vast majority of Quebecers drink moderately and responsibly. Nonetheless, there has been an increase in the incidence of abusive drinking among a limited yet very real number of drinkers. Therefore, in addition to promoting moderation, Éduc’alcool is now going to be very clear about what moderation means.

A national committee of experts, including Éduc’alcool’s scientific advisor, has developed specific guidelines for low-risk drinking. These have been reviewed by leading authorities from three continents and endorsed by an impressive number of public and private agencies. The guidelines are now considered the gold standard in the field.

The recommendations are different for men and women. They also take into account both short-term and long-term problems that may result from excessive drinking.

Women who wish to avoid long-term problems should limit themselves to two drinks a day and 10 a week. For men, the limits are three drinks a day and 15 a week. This is the 2-3 part of the formula.

There is no harm in drinking a little more than that every now and then. On a special occasion, for example, women may have three drinks and men, four, provided, of course, that such “special occasions” don’t occur too frequently. This is the 3-4 part of the formula.

To prevent physical and psychological addiction, it is recommended that everyone abstain from drinking at least one day a week. That is the 0 in the formula.

The guidelines are based on the accepted definition of a standard drink, as follows:

  • Beer: 340 ml (12 oz), 5% alcohol
  • Wine: 140 ml (5 oz), 12% alcohol
  • Fortified wine or malt liquour: 85 ml (3 oz), 20% alcohol
  • Spirits: 45 ml (1.5 oz), 40% alcohol
  • Cider and pre-mixed drinks: varies according to alcohol content, which can be anywhere from 2.5% to 20%, as indicated on the bottle.

Full coverage

For this campaign, Éduc’alcool has created the “W2-M3” logo: the woman’s head is replaced by the number 2 and the man’s head by the number 3, illustrating the daily drink limit for each.

A wide variety of media will be employed to get the message across, including television, movies, print, classic web and viral.

Posters will go up in drinking establishments across Quebec – in the bar area, on the bar itself and in the restrooms (where the traditional “Men” and “Women” signs will be replaced by the W2-M3 logo).

In addition, a video featuring break dancers performing to original music has been produced to reach the younger market through a viral campaign.

Last but not least, a free booklet on low-risk drinking will be available at all SAQ outlets, in hospitals and in CLSCs.

In Éduc’alcool’s most recent survey, 23% of drinkers said they had more than five drinks on a single occasion at least once a month (7% at least once a week). Ten percent said they had more than eight drinks on a single occasion at least once a month (3% at least once a week). These are the numbers the organisation hope to see drop as a result of its campaign and the introduction of a new social norm that defines moderation using the 2-3-4-0 formula.

Order the publication