History of U.S. Alcohol Regulation

The history of alcohol regulation in the U.S. is complex. and to understand the current landscape it is important to understand the historical context.

Toward Liquor Control

Book cover of Toward Liquor Control

To obtain a copy and learn more about this book, visit the Center for Alcohol Policy.

Toward Liquor Control

In 1933, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. commissioned a study to help map a path forward following the repeal of Federal prohibition. This seminal report, Toward Liquor Control serves as a blueprint for state alcohol regulation today just as it did then.

Key Findings

  • Reduce aggressive sales tactics
  • Avoid vertical integration that led to market domination in past
  • Limit hours, days, and locations of alcohol sales
  • Place more restrictions on high alcohol by volume (ABV) products, such as distilled spirits
Video – The Origin of America’s State-Based Alcohol Regulatory System

Watch a 2-minute video, “The Origin of America’s State-Based Alcohol Regulatory System,” produced by the Center for Alcohol Policy on the book “Toward Liquor Control”.

“Toward Liquor Control is a study just as important today as when it was written in 1933. With the failed federal experience of Prohibition, Fosdick and Scott recognized the benefits of the states having the ability to enact alcohol policies most suitable for their respective jurisdictions and demographics.”

~ James Sgueo, former President and CEO, National Alcohol Beverage Control Association

Webinar – Unraveling the Mystery of Alcohol Regulation

This webinar outlines the history of alcohol regulation from the pre-Prohibition era to present day. Presented by Pamela Erickson, CEO of Public Action Management and the Healthy Alcohol Marketplace and former alcohol regulator.


The Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace

The Campaign for a Healthy Alcohol Marketplace was born from the realization of Pamela Erickson, a former alcohol regulator, who produces a website and newsletter published monthly to demystify alcohol regulation in the U.S. The Campaign’s website is a primary repository of educational resources, including PowerPoints and short reports and has specific sections for attorneys who need to defend state regulations. Additionally, resources include expert reports and affidavits from court cases. All materials are downloadable free of charge without asking for permission.

Read More