December 5th Marks 80th Anniversary of Prohibition Repeal
In 1920, the 18th Amendment, 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 21st Amendment
repealing the 18th – to this day the only Constitutional amendment repealing
"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. "Over the past eight decades, there has been tremendous modernization
within the industry; however, some prohibition legacies still remain
inconveniencing consumers and impeding economic growth."
For example, Cressy cited, 12 states still ban Sunday spirits sales at package
stores; six states ban all forms of spirits tastings; and, one state (South
Carolina) continues the truly anachronistic ban on alcohol sales during state
and national Election Days – a throwback to the period when saloons often served
as polling stations.
"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.
States are increasingly repealing outdated Blue Laws as a means to increase
revenue without raising taxes, according to Cressy, who noted that 16 states
have repealed Sunday sales bans since 2002 for a total of 38 states. Further, he
said, the last decade has seen an increase in spirits market share among
beverage alcohol products, greater consumer interest in premium spirits
products, and record export growth.
"As America marks this historic Anniversary of Prohibition Repeal, let's raise a
toast to those states that took a stand 80 years ago against one of the biggest
policy fiascos in American history and set the stage for today's robust American
spirits market," Cressy concluded.
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%.