How Long Did Prohibition Last (And Why)?

How Long Did Prohibition Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 13 Years

The prohibition was described as a great social and economic experiment by American president Herbert Hoover. The prohibition in the United States started on 17th January 1920 and ended on 5th December 1933 and thus, is said to have lasted for nearly 13 years. It was a nationwide ban by the constitution on the production, sale, manufacturing, transporting, and importation of alcoholic beverages.

The 18th Amendment in the constitution had illegalized the activities related to the production and sale of alcohol. It was passed by Congress in 1917, ratified in 1919, and from 1920, lasted for the next 13 years. Following the prohibition of 1920, certain local states managed to maintain the ban on alcohol even after two decades, after it ended in the United States.

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How Long Did Prohibition Last?

Prohibition In:Lasted Till:Duration
United States193313 years
Kanas194828 years
Oklahoma195939 years
Mississippi196646 years

The main aim of prohibition was to put a halt and ban on the consumption of alcohol in the United States as well as on its production. After the 18th amendment was passed, the prohibition was implemented by the National Prohibition Act of the U.S, also known as the Volstead Act, in October 1919. According to its terms and conditions, the nationwide prohibition began on 17th January 1920.

Men began pouring alcohol down the drain during the prohibition period. Not any layman but only doctors were allowed to prescribe alcohol. Doctors were permitted to prescribe alcohol to their patients for only medicinal purposes and sometimes for certain laboratory use. During this period, many illegal activities of production, illegal smuggling, and transportation of alcohol took place in the entire country due to increasing corruption among other things.

During prohibition, the consumption of alcohol had dropped by one-third and that of hard liquor or spirits by 50 percent. It did have certain positive effects like a reduction in the number of people having liver problems, decrease in the number of deaths by cirrhosis of the liver. However, on the other hand, death due to consumption of adultered alcohol had considerably increased.

The 13 year-long prohibitions in the United States ended on 5th December 1933. The 21st amendment in the constitution repealed and thereby removed the 18th amendment from the constitution and thus, the prohibition finally reached its end. After 1933, control of alcohol become a state issue, unlike the federal and nationwide issue it was before. In Mississippi, it lasted till 1966 and there might still exist certain small and local areas where the ban remains.

Why Did Prohibition Last So Long?

The 18th amendment had only illegalized the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol, not its consumption. People used to stash alcohol in their homes and enjoyed it from the comfort and privacy of their homes when required.

However, there were certain exceptions to this prohibition. Alcohol was permitted to be allowed in laboratories and for medicinal use. With a doctor’s prescription, patients were allowed to buy liquor. But at the same time, there was tremendous adulteration going on with the alcohol which costed many lives. Several people lost their lives due to the consumption of adulterated, tainted, and chemical-filled alcohol, in which many toxic chemicals and low-quality substances were mixed.

Such adulterated booze killed more than 10,000 people before the 18th amendment was repealed in 1933. Even after the prohibition was repealed, certain states within their borders maintained a strict ban on alcoholic beverages. At present, there are said to be 10 states where alcohol sales are still prohibited.

The prohibition was majorly regarded as a complete failure as its outcome was not as expected. It did not limit rates of consumption of alcohol as plenty of Americans still had access to it via their secret means and smuggled it in and out.


The prohibition in the United States lasted for a span of 13 years from 1920 to 1933. It had many effects but is best remembered as a failure. It led to a spike in violence and criminal activities which finally contributed to its repeal in 1933.

The prohibition ended following the argument of president Franklin. D. Roosevelt, who argued that the return of the alcohol industry would provide jobs to people and a source of tax revenue during the period of the Great Depression of the 1930s.



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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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