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Not Liquor Industry's Fault

August 23, 1987

I would like to comment on the letters by Patricia Taylor and Ray Chavira published July 26 under the headline, "Celebrities Should Warn Against Alcohol, Not Hype Drinking in Ads."

The liquor industry is constantly being attacked by misguided individuals and groups that are determined to place the blame for the social consequences of alcohol abuse on the producers and representatives of these products.

As a group, the alcoholic beverage industry is one of the most reliable, socially responsible groups in America. The industry pioneered and is dedicated to the cause of moderation in the use of alcoholic beverages. This theme is being stressed in a growing number of industry commercials and advertisements in an effort to educate the public on the dangers of alcohol abuse.

The liquor industry should not be held responsible for providing warnings concerning alcohol abuse any more than automobile manufacturers should be required to warn of the dangers of reckless driving. Both require common sense and judgment by the consumer.

Anyone who is unable to handle alcohol, is on any medication or is adversely affected by alcohol should not drink at all.

Taylor implies, but provides no evidence, that higher rates of liver cirrhosis, obstructive pulmonary disease, severe malnutrition, birth defects and hypertension experienced by blacks are alcohol-related.

To the contrary, numerous studies have shown that while the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the United States increased dramatically from 1975 to 1985, actual cases of cirrhosis of the liver declined 15%.

Additionally, several medical studies have shown that drinking in moderation actually lowers the risk of heart attacks.

The contention that the black and Latino communities are being "specially targeted" by massive liquor industry advertising campaigns is not factual. Advertising funds are spent by the liquor industry to sell products in every community--not just to blacks and Latinos.

Chavira's recommendations to raise "currently minuscule state and federal taxes on alcoholic beverages" is a complete misstatement of fact. The truth is that the distilled spirits industry is currently and always has been the most highly taxed industry in America.

The focus of these groups and individuals who oppose the liquor industry should be on the drug abuse that drains the country's human and financial resources, not on a legal and responsible industry that provides thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue.



Editor's Note: The writer describes himself as a former wine and spirits industry executive.

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