Happy anniversary! Alcohol prohibition ended on December 5, 1933 – but could it be effective today?

The American Journal of Public Health ran an editorial on prohibition. Here’s a summary:

…prohibitions can be a public health option, but effectiveness might vary depending on the type of banned object or activity and, most importantly, depending on historical context. “Historical context” means that prohibitions could work in one place but not another, in one time but not another, and in one population but not another (Tyrrell, 1997). Blocker argues that for prohibitions to succeed, the aim should not be a legislation of morals and not a regulation of economy, but should be a concern for public health. He argues that prohibitions can succeed when widespread public consensus is behind a prohibition and its enforcement. For example, regarding passive smoking laws or illicit drugs, at least partial prohibitions are in place today and are driven by strong public support. Further, the author explains that qualities of the banned articles (e.g., the conditions of production, the value to an illicit trade, or the ability to conceal the article) will affect the success of prohibitions. Health and social costs but also potential benefits of prohibitions and effects on both the individual and the society at large are important to consider.