Will Prohibition's Repeal Soon be Completed?

Seventy-five years ago National Prohibition (1920-1933) was repealed. But prohibition really didn't end then. Some states continued their own prohibition for decades, others permitted counties and municipalities to create their own prohibition, and many states have long continued prohibition on Sundays and other times such as election days.

Yet progress is being made. In recent years, temperance-era sentiment has been declining. Since 2002, 13 states have repealed the ban on Sunday alcohol sales: Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and Washington State.

Legalizing the sale of alcohol on Sundays has increased tax revenues without any increase in alcohol-related problems such as drunken driving or underage drinking. It's been a win-win situation.

This year, three states have eliminated the old ban on selling alcohol on election days: Delaware, Idaho and Utah. These laws were holdovers from the days when saloons were sometimes used as polling places.

When given a choice, people tend to opt for freedom of choice. Since 2003, there have been over 300 "local-option" elections in Texas. Over 80% of the time, Texans have chosen to permit alcohol sales in "dry" counties and municipalities. Doing so can reduce alcohol-related traffic crashes, which tend to be higher in dry counties. And it's also "green" in that it reduces driving because alcohol sales outlets aren't so far away.

But there's still much temperance sentiment expressed in high alcohol beverage taxes and numerous restrictions on consumer choice.


  • Ben Jenkins, The proof is in the numbers: Change in 35 states aids businesses, consumers. San Angelo Standard-Times, September 17, 2008.

Filed Under: Prohibition