Toasting the holidays without driving impaired

At a Humber alcohol awareness event last Monday, Toronto vendors talked with Humber students about the importance of responsible drinking. (Photo: Jake Wilson-Hajdu) At a Humber alcohol awareness event last Monday, Toronto vendors talked with Humber students about the importance of responsible drinking. (Photo: Jake Wilson-Hajdu)

Alex Drobin and Andy Redding
Senior Reporters

The ninth annual PLANiT Alcohol Awareness event attracted hundreds of Humber students Monday at the North campus concourse to promote safe drinking practices throughout the holiday season.

Put on by Humber’s Public Relations postgraduate students, PLANiT was designed with interactive displays and information kiosks.

“It is an event aimed at educating students and raising awareness about alcohol and its safe uses,” said Ranziba Nehrin, a Humber PR student.

The event was also chock-full of free giveaways, including food, drinks, and other gadgets.

“We have a lot of vendors here today that will be providing resources for students that walk through in a trade fair booth style, and they will be giving out refreshments,” she said.

The event brought vendors from across the GTA to talk with students about responsible drinking practices. MADD Toronto, the Toronto Police, and the LCBO were all present.

“Alcohol awareness is important for everybody,” said Toronto Police officer Jesse Riley.

“All community members are affected by people who drink and drive or drive impaired in general,” he said.

According to a 2011 Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) survey, impaired driving rates in Canada are highest for 20 to 24-year-olds, an age group that represents a significant chunk of the Humber student population.

That rate is over three times the national average for the same period. The survey is a compilation of police-reported crimes on federal, provincial and municipal levels in Canada.

“We know that alcohol is associated with celebrations, with student life,” said Humber President and CEO Chris Whitaker.

“And I think, particularly at this time of year, the holiday season, it’s nice to have this event because it’s encouraging people to make wise decisions,” he said.

While the event focused on the consequences of drinking and driving, it also shed light on misconceptions surrounding driving while under the influence of marijuana.

“Most people think it’s only alcohol, but there are lot of other substances that can impair driving, the most common being marijuana,” said Riley.

Driving while high has become a hot topic issue ever since the Oct. 19 federal election victory of the pro-marijuana legalization Liberal Party and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In early November, Trudeau issued a public mandate letter to new Justice Minister and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to push forward legalization, but there are concerns that a complete ban on driving while high will be necessary.

“People think they drive well when they’re stoned, but they just don’t,” said Anne Leonard, who had a display for Eggs on Weed, a public awareness campaign against driving under the influence of marijuana.

While some people may choose to make use of cannabis, “we don’t have an opinion on that, just don’t drive.”

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