Prohibition of alcohol, often referred to simply as prohibition, is the practice of prohibiting the manufacture, transportation, import, export, sale, and consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. The term can also apply to the periods in the histories of the countries during which the prohibition of alcohol was enforced. Use of the term as applicable to a historical period is typically applied to countries of European culture. In some countries of the Muslim world, consumption of alcoholic beverages is forbidden according to Islamic Law — though the strictness by which this prohibition was and is enforced varies considerably between various Islamic countries and various periods in their history.
- 1 History
- 2 Oceania
- 3 North America
- 4 Latin America
- 5 Nordic countries
- 6 United Kingdom
- 7 Soviet Union
- 8 Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia
- 9 Southern Asia
- 10 Southeast Asia
- 11 Elections
- 12 See also
- 13 References
- 14 Further reading
The earliest records of prohibition of alcohol dates back to the Xia Dynasty (ca. 2070 BC–ca. 1600 BC) in China. Yu the Great, the first ruler of the Xia Dynasty, prohibited alcohol throughout the kingdom . It was legalized again after his death, during the reign of his son Qi.
The first half of the 20th century saw periods of prohibition of alcoholic beverages in several countries:
- 1907 to 1948 in Prince Edward Island, but for much shorter periods in other provinces in Canada
- 1914 to 1925 in Russia and the Soviet Union
- 1915 to 1922 in Iceland (though beer was still prohibited until 1989)
- 1916 to 1927 in Norway (fortified wine and beer also prohibited from 1917 to 1923)
- 1919 in Hungary (in the Hungarian Soviet Republic, March 21 to August 1; called szesztilalom)
- 1919 to 1932 in Finland (called kieltolaki, "ban law")
- 1920 to 1933 in the United States
After several years, prohibition became a failure in North America and elsewhere, as bootlegging (rum-running) became widespread and organized crime took control of the distribution of alcohol. Distilleries and breweries in Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean flourished as their products were either consumed by visiting Americans or illegally imported to the U.S. Chicago became notorious as a haven for prohibition dodgers during the time known as the Roaring Twenties. Prohibition generally came to an end in the late 1920s or early 1930s in most of North America and Europe, although a few locations continued prohibition for many more years.
The Australian Capital Territory was the first Australian jurisdiction in which prohibition laws were enacted. In 1910 King O'Malley, the then Minister of Home Affairs, shepherded the laws through parliament to address unruly behaviour. Seventeen years later the Federal Parliament repealed the laws.
In Melbourne in the late 1920s, the temperance movement drove suburban councils to hold polls and the residents of some of these municipalities voted for the creation of a dry area. This prohibited the granting of a liquor license without a formal vote of approval by local residents. These areas continue to this day in the suburbs of Camberwell and Box Hill, where there is no commercial sale of alcohol, no licensed restaurants or pubs (bars). Polls have been held since, however the majority of voters continue to support the restrictions on liquor licenses.
More recently alcohol has been prohibited in many remote indigenous communities across Australia. Penalties for transporting alcohol into these "dry" communities are severe and can result in confiscation of any vehicles involved; in dry areas within the Northern Territory, all vehicles used to transport alcohol are seized.
Because alcohol consumption has been known to lead to violence, some communities sought a safer alternative in substances such as kava, especially in the Northern Territory. Over-indulgence in kava causes sleepiness, rather than the violence that can result from over-indulgence in alcohol. These and other measures to counter alcohol abuse met with variable success. Some communities saw decreased social problems and others did not. The ANCD study notes that, to be effective, programs must address "...the underlying structural determinants that have a significant impact on alcohol and drug misuse." (Op. cit., p. 26) The Federal government banned kava imports into the Northern Territory in 2007.
In New Zealand, prohibition was a moralistic reform movement begun in the mid-1880s by the Protestant evangelical and Nonconformist churches and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union and after 1890 by the Prohibition League. It never achieved its goal of national prohibition. It was a middle-class movement which accepted the existing economic and social order; the effort to legislate morality assumed that individual redemption was all that was needed to carry the colony forward from a pioneering society to a more mature one. However, both the Church of England and the largely Irish Catholic Church rejected prohibition as an intrusion of government into the church's domain, while the growing labor movement saw capitalism rather than alcohol as the enemy. Reformers hoped that the women's vote, in which New Zealand was a pioneer, would swing the balance, but the women were not as well organized as in other countries. Prohibition had a majority in a national referendum in 1911, but needed a 60% vote to pass. The movement kept trying in the 1920s, losing three more referenda by close votes; it managed to keep in place a 6pm closing hour for pubs and Sunday closing. The Depression and war years effectively ended the movement.
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a major reform movement sponsored by evangelical Protestant churches, especially the Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, Disciples and Congregationalists from the 1840s into the 1920s. Kansas and Maine were early adopters. The Women's Christian Temperance Union, founded in 1874, and the Prohibition Party were major players until the early 20th century, when the movement was taken over by the Anti-Saloon League. By using pressure politics on legislators, the Anti-Saloon League achieved the goal of nationwide prohibition during World War I, emphasizing the need to destroy the political corruption of the saloons, the political power of the German-based brewing industry, and the need to reduce domestic violence in the home.
Prohibition was instituted with ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on January 16, 1920, which prohibited the "...manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States..." Congress passed the "Volstead Act" on October 28, 1919, to enforce the law, but most large cities were uninterested in enforcing the legislation, leaving an understaffed federal service to go after bootleggers. Although alcohol consumption did decline, there was a dramatic rise in organized crime in the larger cities, which now had a cash crop that was in high demand.
Prohibition became increasingly unpopular during the Great Depression, as the repeal movement, started by a wealthy Republican Pauline Sabin who said that prohibition should be repealed because it made the US a nation of hypocrites and undermined our respect for the rule of law. Her fellow Republicans were put in office by the "drys" and even though they eagerly partook in consumption of the adult beverages at her parties in public they presented themselves as opposing repeal of prohibition, lest they be thrown out of office by the dry voting blocks. This hypocrisy and the fact that women lead the prohibition movement convinced her to start the organization that eventually lead to the repeal of prohibition. When her fellow Republicans would not support her efforts she went to the Democrats and who changed from drys to supporting repeal led by conservative Democrats and Catholics, emphasized that repeal would generate enormous sums of much needed tax revenue, and weaken the base of organized crime. (See Ken Burns Women of PROHIBITION Pauline Sabin - Pauline Sabin was founder of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform http://video.pbs.org/video/2082534271/) The Repeal of Prohibition in the United States was accomplished with the passage of the Twenty-first Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5, 1933. By its terms, states were allowed to set their own laws for the control of alcohol. The organized Prohibition movement was dead nationwide, but survived for a while in a few southern and border states.
Prohibition in Canada
Prohibition in Mexico
Zapatista Communities will often ban alcohol as part of a collective decision. This has been used by many villages as a way to decrease domestic violence and has generally been favored by women. However, this is not recognized by federal Mexican law as the Zapatista movement is strongly opposed by the federal government.
The sale and purchase of alcohol is prohibited on and the night before certain national holidays, such as Natalicio de Benito Juárez (birthdate of Benito Juárez) and Día de la Revolución, which are meant to be dry nationally. The same "dry law" applies to the days before presidential elections every six years.
The Nordic countries, with the exception of Denmark, have had a temperance tradition since the early 1900s. Prohibition was enforced in Iceland from 1915 to 1935 (with beer prohibited until 1989). In Norway, distilled beverages were prohibited from 1916 to 1927, and prohibition also included fortified wine and beer from 1917 to 1923. Sweden enforced a rationing system (Bratt System or "motboken") between 1914 and 1955, but a referendum in 1922 rejected total prohibition. Alcohol was prohibited in the Faroe Islands until 1992. Nordic countries today, with the exception of Denmark, strictly control the sale of alcohol. There are government monopolies in place for selling liquors, wine and stronger beers to consumers, in Norway (Vinmonopolet), Sweden (Systembolaget), Iceland (Vínbúðin) and Finland (Alko). Corporations such as bars and restaurants may import alcoholic beverages directly or through other companies. The temperance movement in Scandinavia (parts of which are affiliated with the International Organisation of Good Templars), which advocates strict government regulations concerning the consumption of alcohol, has seen a decline in membership numbers and activity during the past years, but has seen a recent increase (for example IOGT-NTO in Sweden had a net gain of 12,500 members in 2005).
Alcohol abuse had a long history, especially regarding binge drinking and public intoxication, which became a crime in 1733. In the 19th century the punishments became stiffer and stiffer, but the problem persisted. A strong total abstinence movement emerged that cut consumption in half from the 1880s to the 1910s, and gave Finland the lowest drinking rate in Europe. Four attempts at instituting prohibition during early 20th century were rejected by the czar; with the czar gone Finland enacted prohibition in 1919. Smuggling emerged and enforcement was slipshod. Criminal convictions for drunkenness went up by 500%, and violence and crime rates soared. Public opinion turned against the law, and a national plebiscite went 70% for repeal, so prohibition was ended in early 1932.
The sale or consumption of commercial alcohol has never been prohibited by law.
The Bournville Village Trust, an area of land which covers parts of the Birmingham suburbs of Bournville, Selly Oak and Northfield has been 'dry' for over 100 years, with no alcohol being sold in pubs, bars or shops. This is due to the historical Quaker presence in the area which was founded by the Cadbury brothers when they opened their chocolate factory in Bournville in 1879. Residents have fought to maintain the alcohol free zone, in winning a court battle in March 2007 with Britain's biggest supermarket chain Tesco, to prevent it selling alcohol in its local outlet.
Throughout the first half of the twentieth century, homebrewing was circumscribed by taxation and prohibition, largely due to lobbying by large breweries that wished to stamp out the practice. One of the earliest, modern attempts to regulate private production that affected this era was the Inland Revenue Act of 1880 in the United Kingdom, which required homebrewers to obtain a licence at a price of 5 shillings.
In the Russian Empire, a limited version of a Dry Law was introduced in 1914. It continued through the turmoil of the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the Russian Civil War into the period of Soviet Russia and the Soviet Union until 1925.
Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia
Alcohol is prohibited in some Muslim countries because of Quranic cautions against drinking:
- "Shaitân (Satan) wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants (alcoholic drinks) and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allâh (God) and from As-Salât (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?"[Quran 5:91]
- "They ask you (O Muhammad) concerning alcoholic drink and gambling. Say: "In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit." And they ask you what they ought to spend. Say: "That which is beyond your needs." Thus Allâh makes clear to you His Laws in order that you may give thought."[Quran 2:219] 
The Islamic prohibition on consumption of alcoholic drinks is thus the earliest and longest-lasting, reinforced by being embedded in religious teaching; still, both historically and at present, its enforcement varies considerably in different Muslim states and societies (for example, at the heyday of Medieval Muslim al-Andalus, drinking songs were a recognised and valued literary genre).
Saudi Arabia completely bans the production, importation or consumption of alcohol and imposes strict penalties on those violating the ban, including weeks to months of imprisonment, and possible lashes. Similarly, Kuwait also bans the importation or consumption of alcohol, but does not impose corporal punishment for violations. During the Persian Gulf War in 1991, the Coalition, to show respect for local beliefs, banned its troops in Saudi Arabia from drinking alcohol.
Qatar bans the importation of alcohol and it is a punishable offense to drink alcohol or be drunk in public. Offenders may incur a prison sentence or deportation. Alcohol is, however, available at licensed hotel restaurants and bars, and non-Muslim expatriates living in Qatar can obtain alcohol on a permit system at the Qatar Distribution Center, the only distributor allowed to sell alcohol.
The United Arab Emirates restricts the purchase of alcohol from a liquor store to non-Muslim foreigners who have residence permits and who have an Interior Ministry liquor license. Rules vary by emirate, and the emirate of Sharjah has a total prohibition on alcohol, with the exceptions of duty-free at the airport and one social club.
Iran began restricting alcohol consumption and production soon after the 1979 Revolution, with harsh penalties meted out for violations of the law. However, there is widespread violation of the law. Officially recognized non-Muslim minorities are allowed to produce alcoholic beverages for their own private consumption and for religious rites such as the Eucharist (two of the four religious minorities guaranteed representation in the Majlis, the Armenians and Assyrians, are Christian, the former being chiefly Armenian Apostolic and the latter being predominantly Chaldean Eastern Catholic).
Alcohol was banned in Afghanistan during the rule of the Taliban. In the wake of the ousting from power of the Taliban, the ban was lifted for foreigners, who can buy alcohol in certain shops on presentation of their passport to prove they are foreigners. Afghan citizens are prohibited by law from buying alcohol.
Libya bans the import, sale and consumption of alcohol, with heavy penalties for offenders. Tunisia has a selective ban on alcohol products other than wine, with consumption and sale being allowed in special zones or bars "for tourists" and in large cities. Wine, however, is widely available. Morocco prohibits the sale of alcohol during Ramadan 
Sudan has banned all alcohol consumption and extends serious penalties to offenders pursuant to President Omar al-Bashir's policy of enacting Shari`a as national law. Despite this, there exists a thriving trade in date brandy (called araqi in Sudanese Arabic) and other native alcoholic beverages; a black market in imported beverages, such as whisky, also thrives in the cities.
Many other Arab countries such as Lebanon or mainly Muslim countries such as Egypt, Syria, Jordan and Turkey do not have any ban on alcohol, and production as well as consumption are legal, under the provision that people below the legal drinking age (which ranges from 18 to 21 depending on the country and the situation) cannot legally purchase alcoholic beverages. In Turkey the sale of alcoholic beverages is prohibited for 24 hours during general elections.
In some states of India alcoholic drinks are banned, for example the states of Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram. Certain national holidays such as Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti (birthdate of Mahatma Gandhi) are meant to be dry days nationally. The state of Andhra Pradesh had imposed Prohibition under the Chief Ministership of N. T. Rama Rao but this was thereafter lifted. Dry days are also observed on voting days. Prohibition was also observed from 1996 to 1998 in Haryana. Prohibition has become controversial in Gujarat following a July 2009 episode in which widespread poisoning resulted from alcohol that had been sold illegally. All of the Indian states observe dry days on major religious festivals/occasions depending on the popularity of the festival in that region. These dry days are observed to maintain peace and order during the festival days.
Pakistan allowed the free sale and consumption of alcohol for three decades from 1947, but restrictions were introduced by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto just weeks before he was removed as prime minister in 1977. Since then, only members of non-Muslim minorities such as Hindus, Christians and Zoroastrians are allowed to apply for permits for alcohol. The monthly quota depends on their income but is usually about five bottles of liquor or 100 bottles of beer. In a country of 140 million, only about 60 outlets are allowed to sell alcohol and there used to be only one legal brewery, Murree Brewery in Rawalpindi, Now there are more. Enforced by the country's Islamic Ideology Council, the ban is strictly policed. However, members of religious minorities often sell their liquor permits to Muslims and a black market trade in alcohol continues.
In Bangladesh, foreign passport holders of non-Muslim nations can drink in some licenced restaurants and bars (and expatriate clubs) and can purchase imported alcohol from 'diplomatic bonded warehouses' at a hefty rate of sales duty (Approx 300%). Holders of diplomatic passports and some other specially privileged persons (such as U.N. employees) have 'passbooks' which entitle them to buy imported alcohol from the same 'bonded warehouses' duty free. Often duty free and duty paid prices are shown alongside one another. Bangladesh nationals of any religion may purchase alcohol from special outlets with a medical certificate. Illegal homemade liquor (known as 'Mod' or 'Bangla') is widely consumed in rural areas. The (mostly Christian) Garo tribal folk also brew a strong rice beer called 'Choo'. Christians are permitted to use wine for Holy Communion.
The Maldives ban the import of alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are available only to foreign tourists on resort islands and may not be taken off the resort.
In Brunei, alcohol consumption in public is banned and there is no sale of alcohol. Non-Muslims are allowed to purchase a limited amount of alcohol from their point of embarkation overseas for their own private consumption. Non-Muslims over 17 years of age may be allowed to bring in not more than two bottles of liquor (about two quarts) and twelve cans of beer per person into the country.
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- ^ Chinese Administration of Alcoholic Beverages
- ^ Hakim, Joy (1995). War, Peace, and all that Jazz. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 16–20.
- ^ Heath, Dwight B. (1995). International handbook on alcohol and culture. Westport, CT. Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 21 There seems to be agreement in the literature for 1948 but various dates are given for the initiation of PEI's prohibition legislation. 1907 is the latest. 1900, 1901 and 1902 are given by others.
- ^ Associated Press, Beer (Soon) for Icelanders, New York Times, May 11, 1988
- ^ Australian Broadcasting Commission (2007) "Kava Ban 'Sparks Black Market Boom'", ABC Darwin 23 August 2007 http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/08/23/2012707.htm?site=darwin Accessed 18 October 2007
- ^ Greg Ryan, "Drink and the Historians: Sober Reflections on Alcohol in New Zealand 1840–1914," New Zealand Journal of History (April 2010) Vol.44, No.1
- ^ Richard Newman, "New Zealand'S Vote For Prohibition In 1911," New Zealand Journal of History, April 1975, Vol. 9 Issue 1, pp 52-71
- ^ Thomas R. Pegram, Battling Demon Rum: The Struggle for a Dry America, 1800-1933 (1998)
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- Max Henius The error in the National prohibition act (1931)
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