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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/407

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LEGAL PREVENTIVES OF ALCOHOLISM.

pecuniary punishment for the public scandal of a man in a state of intoxication, removal to a special establishment for victims of alcoholism, and putting the drunkard under guard if he shows himself unfit to manage his affairs, or misbehaves in a way to imperil the safety of third persons. While the dealers do not accept with good grace a measure which will so greatly compromise their interests, and are petitioning against it, the women see in it a hope for the salvation of their families, and are also circulating petitions in which it is declared that when the free use of alcoholic drinks, often adulterated, is energetically prevented, prosperity will return to the homes of numerous workmen. The women are right this time, and I would sign their petition with both hands; and I wish that our French women might form a league for the same purpose, which might perhaps awaken our legislators from their indifference.

Austria has increased the tax on intoxicating drinks, and has endeavored to limit the number of public houses; but I have no documents at hand from which I can learn the effect of these measures. Belgium has not adopted any restrictive law except one against intoxication, and the consumption of liquors there has risen to twelve litres per inhabitant, while public houses have multiplied till there is now an average of one for every forty-three inhabitants, and in some places one for every twenty-four, or for every five or six adults. In the grand duchy of Luxemburg the number of drinking shops has become so excessive that a law has been promulgated raising the license fees and subjecting dealers to a tax proportioned to the number of inhabitants, with a proviso for considering the debts of the concern in fixing the fees.

Coming now to the Netherlands, I am glad to be able to recognize the wise enactments which your legislators have given you. They have thought, without doubt, and with strong reasons, in my opinion, that all fiscal measures would be ineffective so long as anybody or everybody should be at liberty to offer these mischievous drinks to the public. They have, therefore, prudently prohibited the combination of the trade in drink with a wholly different trade; and I appreciate this feature all the more because I see in France every trade, whatever be its nature, serving as a pretext for the sale of liquor, so that every person entering a shop, without thinking of harm, to buy food or any other goods, is exposed to the temptation of drinking alcohol, which he finds displayed before him. I am not, however, completely informed concerning the value of the results which this plan has brought forth. I have no data for comparing the statistics of the time before the measure was adopted and those following it, and the only statistics I have relate to the proportion of the victims of