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Collective Self-Control

October 06, 1985

"Alcohol Under Attack By 'New Temperance' " (Sept. 8) missed the mark by headlining alcohol as the target of the new temperance movement. The alcoholization of American life is the general focus of our public awareness efforts.

An alcoholistic or systems approach to reducing and preventing escalating alcohol-related problems must focus on the various environmental relationships and policies conditioning the use of alcohol, a psycho-active drug with a high-risk potential.

Societal norms, drinking practices and drinking settings are the context in which beverage alcohol is "used" by pusher, pushover--and the victimized. It is ironic that the article dealt so much with the new warfare between distillers and vintners over which type of firewater is the beverage of "moderation."

While we would tend to agree with the distillers that moderation "is a practice--the number of drinks consumed--not a beverage type . . . ," new temperance advocates hold to a dictionary definition of "temperance" as meaning both abstinence and moderation--and all the space in between.

While we are not neo-prohibitionists, we lean toward the zero end of the alcohol-use continuum and not toward the high road from so-called moderation to overindulgence.

It is that sort of collective self-control that we would urge on American society's $120-billion yearly problem with booze.

RAY CHAVIRA

Member, California State Advisory Board

on Alcohol-Related Problems

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