Shamelessness in the Legislature is seldom so evident as in the Senate’s recent joking and sampling of whiskey-soaked cake, liquor-filled truffles, and liquor-loaded chocolate bottles in miniature as it voted 21-17 to legally hike permissible alcohol in candy, cake and chewing gum 0.5% to 5%.

Your article (Sept. 5), “Liquor-Laced Candy Measure Sent to Governor,” cogently reviewed the blatant economic interests of out-of-state pushers who want California to join the four other states permitting 5% ethyl alcohol in specified confections, Nevada being the nearest.

The otherwise excellent article, however, didn’t report that when the Assembly finally concurred in Senate amendments, that main provision had risen from 2% in the Assembly’s initial passage in May, when no one even discussed 5%. Missing, too, was the fact of unanimous opposition from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the state Advisory Board on Alcohol-Related Problems, and virtually all of the alcohol-problems constituency. Moreover, beleaguered county health departments would be required by AB 503 to “enforce” its labeling and misdemeanor provisions for sales to minors with no funding provided.

This abominable bill, if not vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian, will result in local governments having to lobby the Legislature to impose the sales tax on candy, gum, and other health-related “foodstuffs” hitherto exempt. At a time when even the federal government is trying to reduce the high alcohol content in children’s medicines and other household products, it is unconscionable to threaten the public health and safety with yet another faucet of easy availability.




Chavira is a member of the Los Angeles County Commission on Alcoholism and policy chairman of Americans for Substance Abuse Prevention.