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Has prohibition ever been successful?

  1. Oct 15, 2012 #1
    Not like the FDA banning some vague chemical. I'm talking about prohibition of available, high demand things like drugs or prostitution.

    Someone mentioned to me recently that the Chinese made opium possession punishable by death and that it got rid of the problem, but I don't believe that. Does anyone know of any historical examples of prohibition being successful?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2012 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Islam religion banned alcohol, among other things.
  4. Oct 15, 2012 #3
    But he wants to know if that ban has stopped Muslims from drinking.
  5. Oct 15, 2012 #4
    There are few Muslims, I know in Canada, who drink. Similarly, there are few Hindus who are non-vegetarians and eat beef. But I think these cases are very rare.

    It was interesting to point out drinking prohibition for Muslims. It appears cultural prohibitions work way better than when a government forcefully tries to ban something (e.g. US on drugs). I don't think the cultural prohibitions work better just because consequences are very serious e.g. Sharia law. A while ago I asked my Hindu friend why he doesn't eat meat and he replied just because he respect his culture. You would also find Islamic women who are in liberal settings but still follow traditions and restrict themselves from doing certain things just because of cultural norms they believe in.
  6. Oct 15, 2012 #5
    Though there have been a number of prohibitions, I know about one in the Czech Republic that has actually been very successful. I believe the prohibition still lasts.

    A number of criminals decided to adulterate good-quality, expensive hard liquor with a portion of cheap, home-made alcohol. While the scheme had worked for them for quite some tome, people starting dying en masse last summer after in general innocuous the home-made alcohol became even worse quality and contained methanol. From what my parents told me, the enacted prohibition was actually very successful. However, this is a case of a reasonable time-limited prohibition. Most people seemed to comply with the new rules though liquor companies have lost a ton of money.

    Yet another example of successful prohibition is dereligination in the Soviet Union (is that even a word? :)) From what I was told (by grandparents) and taught (at high school), it took the Bolsheviks over two generations but they eventually succeeded. Religion was purged from schools as well as most social studies. The then-new focus of the Eastern block shifted to mathematics, physics, and hard-sciences. That's why Russians are overwhelmingly portrayed either as physicists or members of a mafia :).

    Religion has, of course, survived in the countryside to some extent but not in large cities. Nowadays the Russian-orthodox religion is enjoying a lukewarm comeback. This practice of banning religion violently backfired in Poland in 1989, mostly because of Pope John Paul II.

    These are the only examples of successful prohibition I can think of at the moment.

    Hold, wait a moment. How about the one-child policy in China? Could that be even compared with a prohibition? Funny, can we even compare a nation-wide crime with a set of rules that actually try to better a nation?
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