California considers cancer warnings for wine, beer and everything else there

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ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan likes to quote Ulysses Grant’s remark that the best way to eliminate an idiotic law is to insist on its strictest possible enforcement.

Californians will soon get a chance to test the veracity of this maxim as the state considers applying its Proposition 65 to alcohol. Under Proposition 65, substances “known to the State of California” to be “carcinogens” can only be sold with warning labels, and since excess alcohol can cause liver cancer and may raise breast cancer risk, the Prop. 65 board is contemplating adding warning labels to all bottles of wine, beer and spirits sold in the Golden State.

These policies are an extension of a larger pattern we have frequently commented on — what has been called chemophobia. Increasingly, chemicals with long histories of safe use are being banned or otherwise restricted no matter how silly or purposeless the regulations.

Dismayed but also amused, ACSH’s Dr. Gilbert Ross observes that “the only people for whom Proposition 65 is doing any good are the state’s vigorous cottage industry of bounty-hunter plaintiff’s attorneys, who by law get to sue companies for violating the labelling regulations. Our publication on Prop. 65 details the complete lack of public health benefit resulting from this law. And I can’t help but wonder what California’s wine industry must think of this.”