The new prohibition?

28th July, 2020 by Roger Morris

The alcohol industry has applauded battles to conquer the evils of excess, from drink-driving and underaged binge drinking. But now, as Roger Morris reports, social drinking is under fire.

Are we seeing the dawn of a new temperance movement, 100 years after the US began its “noble experiment” with Prohibition?

Even before New Year’s Eve 2020, gaiety was quieting down, social media influencers in the UK were touting the advent of Dry January, a time when people would pledge not to sip any real wine, beer or cocktails for a month.

At the same time, wine media in the United States was peppered with offers of expert interviews explaining the virtues of the sober curious movement.

Reports during the winter – before the Covid-19 pandemic closed everything down – that US retailers such as Nordstrom, Crate & Barrel, Whole Foods Market and Giant were turning shopping hours into happy hours by offering customers a free drink had public health experts exercising social shaming for what they called “shopping under the influence”.

Judy Grisel, a psychology and neuroscience professor at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University, was quoted as saying: “Now the message is that we need to be drinking….

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