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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/405

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LEGAL PREVENTIVES OF ALCOHOLISM.

tion of seeing everything on the good side, and of experiencing a momentary augmentation of strength. We should not be surprised, therefore, to find that people who have for the first time felt this sensation are tempted to seek it anew, and to ask of it continually a forgetting, even though it be only momentary, of the difficulties of life, of the fatigues of their occupation, and the illusion of a greater capacity for work which neither tea nor coffee will ever procure for them.

We might, therefore, regard the reduction of the duties on wines as a suitable measure for diminishing the ravages of alcoholism. I believe, in fact, that even the abuse of wine, supposing it to be pure from all addition of alcohol, is not so injurious as even the moderate use of alcoholic drinks; but, with wine the drinker will obtain the excitation he seeks only by drinking considerable quantities, while a small portion of alcohol suffices for producing, at less expense, the desired effect.

Rational as these different measures may be, I consider them powerless so long as the drinker of alcohol can find everywhere, at every hour and every step, a shop for the sale of his favorite beverage. To suppose them efficacious in the present state of affairs—that is, with unlimited liberty to every one to open a shop is to expect on the part of the drinker, and especially for one to whom life is a hard trial, a moral constraint and an effort of reason of which he is incapable, at least in many mediums and under many social conditions. For this reason, without discrediting the results which may be reached by adjustment of taxation, I am still convinced that the surest means of restraining the drinker swiftly descending into alcoholism, and of preventing the fall of those as yet unacquainted with the mischievous seductions of the infirmity, is, first of all, to protect him against the temptation; then, if the measures which I shall call prophylactic fail, to inflict a punishment upon him proportionate to the gravity of his offense; and I am obliged to acknowledge with regret that nothing serious has been as yet done in France in either of these directions. Norwegian legislation, on the contrary, appears to me to be admirably conceived from the point of view of prophylactics. In Norway, whoever wishes to open a liquor shop must ask permission from the municipality, which may refuse it. In order to take away all retroactive effect, they had, in the beginning, to exempt dealers already established from the necessity of obtaining a permit; but when the successive extinctions did not diminish the number of shops fast enough, the municipalities were authorized to expropriate, on condition of indemnifying them, a suitable number of the existing shops.

This is evidently a measure which might give salutary results in every country, provided the municipalities are sufficiently im-