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Terrible Costs of Alcohol Abuse

December 23, 1990

In two recent stories about car accidents, alcohol apparently was the cause. In just a few days, three people died; there were terrible injuries; jobs, careers and families were smashed to bits. There were great costs in emergency services and hospitalization. And there will be great costs in the courts and throughout the justice system.

The people not hurt and out no expense--who even made a profit--were the makers, distributors, advertisers and sellers of alcoholic beverages. How long will people tolerate this ongoing terror on the highways and the disparity in consequences?

The human costs are terrible. There is no way of compensating totally for that. But the physical costs can and should be dealt with, so that those who create the havoc at least pay, in some small way, for the devastation they create.

Proposition 134 proposed a small tax--only a nickel a drink--to cover part of the physical costs of this mayhem. But the alcohol industry, through millions of dollars of deceptive advertising, confused voters and raised doubts to defeat the proposition.

Let us hope that Gov.-elect Wilson and the legislature will revive the nickel-a-drink idea to strengthen the anti-drunk driving efforts; provide funds for trauma centers; for infants who are victims of perinatal alcohol abuse; for the abused children; for the battered women; for the businesses that suffer billions from the loss of work time due to alcoholism; for education and prevention; and for all the other enormous, hidden costs of alcohol abuse.

JACK F. MILLER, Tustin

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