Let's Set The Record Straight On Cisco Wine

Readers write

December 30, 1990

From: Marvin Sands

Chairman

Canandaigua Wine Co. Inc.

Your newspaper recently published a column by Huntley J. Cross, director of the Anne Arundel County Drug and Alcohol Program, which included blatantly false and misleading information about our product, Cisco.

Mr. Cross's article not only wrongly links the death of a California teen-ager to Cisco, it also claims our product is "known on the street as 'liquid crack.' "

The coroner's report on the tragic death of a California teen-ager last August established the young man's blood alcohol content was 0.04 last -- less than half the legal minimum for intoxication in most states. The sheriff's report on the accident stated the bottle of Cisco found near the site was unopened. Authorities concluded alcohol was not a factor in the accident.

According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the term "liquid crack" was "coined by concerned citizens in Washington." We wholeheartedly support anti-drug campaigns and find it extremely disturbing when over-zealous activists call an alcoholic beverage "liquid crack." This dangerously diminishes the seriousness of a drug problem that has become one of our nation's worst social ills.

Implying crack cocaine is no worse than Cisco does a grave disservice to the anti-drug effort.

Mr. Cross suggests Cisco could be mistaken for a wine cooler. We want to point out that it is virtually impossible for an unsuspecting drinker to confuse Cisco, a fortified dessert wine, for a wine cooler.

Cisco is packaged exactly as it was introduced in 1985 -- well before wine coolers achieved their current level of popularity. Cisco has always been clearly labeled "Alcohol 20% by volume." Unlike wine coolers sold in four-packs, Cisco is sold in single 375 ml and 750 ml bottles, and Cisco generally costs about 25 percent more than wine coolers. Finally, Cisco's "hot," high-alcohol taste immediately tells the consumer it is not a low-alcohol cooler.

Though we have received no complaints about consumer confusion, we have taken the following actions to respond to concerns about our product: * We requested and obtained permission from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to place the statement, "This is not a wine cooler" on Cisco labels.

* We asked retailers not to place Cisco next to wine coolers in their stores -- even if this means removing the product from the refrigerated section.

* We removed certain point-of-sale posters -- such as "Takes you by surprise" -- from retail outlets.

Mr. Cross states that "drinking two bottles of Cisco in an hour by a person weighing 100 pounds or less may cause death due to acute alcohol poisoning." We think it is important for your readers to know that quickly consuming large quantities of any type of alcohol can be dangerous.

Singling out one product may lead people to believe it is safe to drink large amounts of other alcoholic beverages.

We are a responsible company selling a legal product. We strongly support laws prohibiting minors from buying alcoholic beverages. We also support community leaders and concerned citizens in their efforts to control alcohol and drug abuse and to educate people about the dangers of drunk driving.

In fact, we are members of the President's Forum of the Beverage Alcohol Industry, which has launched a new program to enact tougher legislation at the state level against drivers under 21 years of age convicted of beverage alcohol violations. The penalty for any alcohol violation -- such as public drunkenness -- would be revocation of driving privileges.

We believe public officials are responsible for providing correct, verified information to the public, and we have also written Mr. Cross about Cisco.

N. ARUNDEL HOSPITAL SAYS 'THANK YOU'

From: Kevin Murnane Director, public relations, North Arundel Hospital Just a short note of appreciation for the outstanding cooperation and support the Anne Arundel County Sun has given the hospital during 1990.

The hospital is in its 25th year of community caring and if it weren't for the excellent support of the Anne Arundel County Sun, the community would not know of the hospital's new services and technology.

Lately, the Anne Arundel County Sun was enough to run some publicity regarding our updated physician directory. Nearly 2,000 area residents have called requesting that publication.

Again, my personal thanks to you and your excellent staff, especially Jill Zarend and JoAnna Daemmrich, for their continued support.

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