Repeal of National Prohibition

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

National Prohibition in the US was repealed in 1933, but the temperance mentality is alive and well.

Because Constitutionally mandated Prohibition is widely recognized as having been a disastrous failure and currently lacks political support, modern prohibitionists are using a different approach to achieving their goal. 1

Their tactic is to establish cultural rather than strictly legal prohibition by making alcohol beverages less socially acceptable and marginalizing those who drink, no matter how moderately. Like the hatchet-wielding Carrie Nation and other prohibitionists who preceded them, modern prohibitionists (or neo-prohibitionists) don’t distinguish between the use and the abuse of alcohol.

The zealots who propagandized for the disastrous National Prohibition (1920-1933) acted in a time when there was little scientific knowledge about the effects of alcohol and they had strange ideas. Consider these assertions:

Astonishingly, all these statements, which are very misleading at best, were not made by prohibitionists of old but by officials representing governmental agencies of today. Significantly, the comments are not based on scientific evidence but instead seem to reflect a neo-prohibitionist effort to stigmatize alcohol.

Because of the clear failure of prohibition, today's neo-prohibitionists and other reduction-of-consumption advocates now typically call for a variety of laws and other measures to reduce rather than completely prohibit consumption. They tend to believe

These beliefs lead neo-prohibitionists (often called reduction-of-consumptionists, neo-drys, or neo-Victorians) to call for such measures as:

Unfortunately for the neo-prohibitionists, the scientific evidence doesn’t provide good support for their recommendations. For more, visit Law and Policy.

To learn more about some of the major neo-prohibitionist groups and individuals, visit:


References and Readings

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