MONTREAL — A new study suggests anglophone Montrealers drink more excessively than their francophone and allophone counterparts and that tippling habits are split along linguistic and cultural lines.
The CROP survey commissioned for Educ'alcool, a non-profit that champions responsible alcohol consumption, indicates English-speaking Montrealers are harder drinkers than their francophone counterparts.
The results unveiled Tuesday found that 46 per cent of the anglophones surveyed admitted to binge drinking (five or more drinks in one session) in the past year, compared with 39 per cent of francophones and 27 per cent of people whose mother tongue was neither French nor English.
Anglophones also were more likely to drive drunk — about 15 per cent admitted to doing so compared with just four per cent of francophones and two per cent of allophones.
"Anglophones drink more often, drink more, drink more in excess and drink and drive more than francophones, who in turn ... (do the same) compared to allophones, who are the best consumers of the group," Educ'alcool executive director Hubert Sacy said in an interview.
While the poll doesn't explain why, Sacy said there are several explanations for the numbers, including the link between income and drinking.
"The more money they have, the more alcohol they drink," Sacy said. "When you don't have enough money to cover normal expenses, you don't spend money on alcohol."
Sacy added that allophones often come from countries where alcohol isn't consumed in large quantities, whereas anglophones stem from cultures that view drinking as more normal.
Educ'alcool commissions the survey every two years to get a better idea of portrait of alcohol consumption and behaviours in the province.
Sacy said a 2015 survey suggested a discrepancy between francophone and non-francophone drinkers, but the sample size was too small.
This year, they tripled the number surveyed to 2,700 Quebecers, including 150 in Montreal from each of the three groups, revealing very distinct drinking habits.
While the other groups preferred to drink with friends, 73 per cent of anglophones preferred drinking at home, the study suggested.
Some 79 per cent of Montrealers in the survey considered themselves drinkers, but the consumption rate varied by group: 1.9 times a week for anglophones compared to 1.4 for francophones and 1.1 for allophones.
For Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy's Pub on Montreal's bustling Crescent Street, there doesn't appear to be a huge difference in drinking habits among patrons, except for their preferences.
"The French have more tendency to drink more wine, the English have a tendency to drink more beer and alcoholic beverages," Eichenbaum said of his clientele.
Sacy said a number that struck him was the 18 per cent of Montrealers who reported encountering a police alcohol checkpoint in the Montreal area in a 12-month span.
That 82 per cent have not is worrisome given that roadblocks are a proven deterrent, he added.
"One can understand police in urban areas have plenty of other things to do," Sacy said. "But still, the decrease from two years ago is unacceptable."
The telephone survey of 2,700 Quebecers between Feb. 20 and March 20 of this year is considered to have a margin of error of 1.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The margin of error for results by region increased to eight percentage points.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press