chapter  5
41 Pages

A Historical Review of Public Policies Regarding Alcohol

In the United States alcohol and politics have a binge-purge relationship that predates the American Revolution. A substantial portion of the American public has always liked its alcohol and has vigorously opposed efforts to limit access to it. Others, concerned about the ill effects of alcohol on morals and health, have sought limitations on and even prohibition of alcohol to protect society from these deleterious consequences. The salience of this battle has ebbed and flowed with the rise and fall of other issues. This chapter uses a historical approach to examine the twentieth-century politics of alcohol policies. Although such policies have their roots in nineteenth-century political struggles (see Aaron and Musto, 1981; Lender and Martin, 1987; Gusfield, 1963; Blocker, 1989), little is lost by beginning the study in 1900. The twentieth-century era of alcohol politics can be divided into five time periods: 1900-19, the triumph of prohibition; 1920-32, the enforcement of prohibition laws; 1932-33, the repeal of prohibition; 1934-70, taxes and treatment; and 1970 to the present, neotemperance concerns with the consequences of alcohol.