December 5th marks the 80th anniversary of the repeal of prohibition. The current alcohol beverage regulatory environment and many of the laws are in place to avoid the “evils” of pre-prohibition days. The Distilled Spirits Counsel of the United States has a great infographic explaining the rise and fall of prohibition ).
Below is a news release, in substance, discussing prohibition, its repeal and some of the legacies that remain. The full release can be reviewed at: .
In 1920, the 18thAmendment, popularly known as “Prohibition,” outlawed alcohol in the United States making America a “dry” country. Thirteen years later on December 5th, 1933, most of the country agreed Prohibition was a complete policy debacle and overwhelmingly ratified the 21stAmendment repealing the 18th– to this day the only Constitutional amendment repealing another amendment.
“While the Government originally envisioned Prohibition to be a ‘noble experiment in social engineering,’ the effort completely failed to deliver its promised benefits and actually made things much worse,” said DISCUS President Peter Cressy, noting that Prohibition increased crime and exacerbated alcohol abuse.
“Consumer demand for greater choice and convenience has resulted in a more modern marketplace across the country and a boom in innovative spirits products around the globe,” Cressy said.
Prohibition’s Lingering Legacies
- Dry Counties. Eighty years later, there are still hundreds of dry counties across the United States today that partially or completely restrict alcohol consumption – mostly across the South and West.
- Sunday Sales. Twelve states still ban Sunday spirits sales, including: AL, IN, MN, MS, MT, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, UT, and WV. Notably, Indiana remains the only state in the country which still bans all beer, wine and spirits sales at package stores on Sundays.
- Spirits Sampling Restrictions. Six states still ban all forms of spirits sampling, including: AK, GA, MT, NC, OK, and UT.
- Neo-Prohibitionists. Neo-prohibitionists continue to promote misguided “population-based controls” as a means of restricting alcohol sales. The most popular examples of these population-based controls include tax increases which lead to higher prices; bans on advertising and marketing; and excessive restrictions on market access.
Trend of Modernization
- Since 2002, 16 states have joined the list of states that allow Sunday spirits sales for a total of 38 states, including most recently Connecticut (2012).
- In 2011, Georgia passed local option legislation allowing Sunday alcohol sales. Since then, more than 200 communities have voted in favor of Sunday alcohol sales, including major population centers such as Atlanta (82%-18%), Macon (62%-38%), and Savannah (60%-40%), among others.
- Since 2004, Texans have marched to the polls to rally for alcohol modernization. Of the 665 local wet/dry elections since 2004, nearly 80% have gone “wet.” In November, voters in Arlington, TX overwhelmingly favored alcohol sales 70%-30%.