1751 CE
A new Gin Act, a new London

In 1751 a new and final Gin Act was introduced by the British government, which was both pragmatic and successful. It increased taxes, controlled licensing, and banned the sale of spirits on credit. In 1751, about 7 million gallons of gin were taxed, the following year less than 4.5 million. The fall reflected declining demand, rather a shift from the official to the black market. Best of all, the common people responded positively to the new legislation.

London in 1750 was no longer the rowdy place it had been at the turn of the century. The first half of the eighteenth century had been one of crazes— the South Sea Bubble, lotteries, mad and extravagant fashions and, most recently, Methodism (a new popular religious movement with a focus on social gospel preaching). By 1750, old social attitudes were also moderated by the rise of the new middle class (representing one third of the population).

The success of a propaganda campaign using a pair of satirical pictures by William Hogarth—Gin Lane and Beer Street—which depicted the misery gin drinkers suffered and contrasted them with the good health enjoyed by people who stuck to beer, paved the way for the new law. New social attitudes, and changing values within the population along with the interests of the brewers all likely contributed to the success of the campaign.

Source: Gately. (2008). Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol. Penguin.

Drugs: Alcohol
Regions: UK (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)
Topics: Cultural factors (social, religious, ritual), Taxation and regulation