One Expert Says Nova Scotians' Cannabis, Booze Habits to Blame for Feelings of Poor Health

A recent survey from Statistics Canada shows that Nova Scotians don't feel as healthy as other Canadians. And doctors are blaming the province's smoking and drinking habits.

Roughly 20,300 fewer Nova Scotians described their health as either "very good" or "excellent" in 2018 than they did in the 2017 survey. And with that also came a 12,000 person increase in those who reported only "fair" or even "poor" health.

While there is no official reason for why Nova Scotians are reporting poorer health, some healthcare experts have a hunch.

"I think more so than many other provinces, Nova Scotians engage in health-compromising behaviors such as excessive cannabis use or excessive alcohol use. In some ways, Nova Scotians love life a bit too much," Dr. Simon Sherry - director of clinical training at Dalhousie University - told Truro News.

Sherry said the Maritime province already has "an entrenched problem" with binge drinking and fears that they could be heading down the same road with cannabis. Nova Scotia is currently the only province where cannabis and alcohol are sold at the same stores.

"Our province hasn't looked at cannabis, gambling and alcohol through the health promotion lens," he said. "They've looked at it through the lens of generating income."

However, Nova Scotia officials weren't prepared to admit that their cannabis policies were contributing to residents' feelings of poor health. Gary Andrea of the Nova Scotia Department of Finance and Treasury Board—which governs cannabis and alcohol sales in the province—said Nova Scotia's cannabis policy isn't much different from the other provinces, and that health and safety is a top concern.

"The decisions we've made and the laws we have in place aim to ensure the sale of cannabis is tightly regulated," Andrea said. "The province has also invested in public education and awareness efforts that promote safe choices. Per federal law, there is no promotion of cannabis."

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