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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/406

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

pressed with the importance of the object sought, and comprehend that it is nothing less than to save the country from a serious peril.

A priori, we might hope much from the Gothenburg system, which consists chiefly in intrusting the management of the public houses to temperance men, who, in selling alcoholic drinks, the use of which it is very hard to suppress completely in northern countries, and giving them to consumers only in proportions compatible with the maintenance of health, should make every endeavor especially to induce their customers to prefer tea and coffee. But I do not know whether this system has been greatly extended or has been generalized, with good results. I believe, however, that the most radical measure, and the one that has been most efficacious, is that of giving to municipal councils the right of absolutely prohibiting the sale of spirituous liquors. Where this system is in operation we may sometimes go considerable distances, it is said, without finding a single liquor shop. If a less restrictive rule is adopted, the prohibition of the sale on religious holidays, and before eight o'clock in the morning and after six in the evening on working days, can not but contribute to the success of a campaign like that so intelligently undertaken and energetically conducted by Norway. Whatever part may have been contributed by each of these measures to the realized results, it is a fact testifying eloquently to their efficiency that in that country the consumption of alcohol, which was in 1843 eight litres per inhabitant, has fallen to 1·70 litre, while in France it is now four litres, having risen, since 1850, from only 1·45 litre. In Germany the taxes on liquors are light, although they have recently been quadrupled; but increase of taxes has not brought about any reduction in consumption, which is 4·5 litres per inhabitant. On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that no serious effort has been made there until recently to contend against the scourge. It is announced, however, that the Government, struck with the dangers threatening the people by the increase of alcoholism, is preparing new legislation which will apply to sellers and consumers. For dealers it requires a license which will be granted only when competent authorities are satisfied of the need of the shop, or are given incontestable moral guarantees; prohibits their selling on credit, declaring all debts contracted for liquors null; forbids sales to children less than thirteen years old and to in-intoxicated persons; and makes them responsible for disorders occurring in their establishments, with penalties consisting of fines or imprisonment for not more than four weeks.

The new system affects consumers through the measures it provides for the protection of society and families against injury from drunkards. The principal of these measures are, besides the