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Issue: Fortified Wines

June 06, 1993|Jake Doherty Times community correspondent

A bill introduced by Assemblyman Louis Caldera (D-Los Angeles) to ban high-alcohol wines from markets only licensed to sell beer and wine was defeated after heavy lobbying by the wine industry. Should the sale of such fortified wines be restricted to liquor stores?

* Peggy Billups, Mid-Wilshire resident; hairstylist

Yes, I think it should be restricted because that's why we have a lot of bums on the street right now. They hustle people in front of the market and then go right in and buy it. It's so cheap and it gets you really drunk. I tried it once. I drank just a little and that was too much. It should be restricted to just liquor stores. Thunderbird will kill you. I never tried that, but Cisco is just as bad. It'll put hair on your chest. It burns. I thought hair was going to grow.

* Eugene Pugdie, Huntington Park resident; manager of hair salon

I don't think it should be available in grocery stores because anyone can buy it then. Liquor stores are better because you have to show ID to show you're 21. (High-alcohol wine) really gets you drunk. Kids can drink it and then they go driving. You can see the problems they have with it. Who buys it? Just junkies and kids.

* Juana Beatriz Gutierrez, East Los Angeles resident; co-founder, Mothers of East Los Angeles

When I heard they killed this bill (in the Assembly) I was really sad. We supported it and a lot of people around here think it's necessary. That's why we have too much crime in the city. It's not just drugs, it's liquor and these wines. Right near where I live I see 12- and 13-year-olds with their bottles of wine. Winos and the homeless buy it for them. We have enough liquor stores already, but every little market sells it too. We need programs for kids, not liquor.

* Sylvia Castillo, Director, Community Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment

Can you imagine five shots of vodka for $1.25? Cheap fortified wines are typically sold in inner-city communities. Liquor store owners that repeatedly sell to intoxicated persons contribute to public-nuisance problems created when groups of people panhandle and drink all day.

Assemblyman Louis Caldera introduced a bill that would limit the sale of these powerful wines to stores with full alcohol licenses. Most inner-city stores are limited to beer and wine sales. Although it would be great to eliminate this type of alcoholic beverage entirely, at least the Caldera bill limited the availability of this deadly product.

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