December 1933

21st Amendment Ratified, Prohibition Ended


December 5, 2017 marks 84 years since the United States ratified the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and paved the way for the modern three-tier beverage alcohol system.

80 Years Ago Today Prohibition Was Repealed

Today’s Wine & Spirits Wholesale Industry Generates $55 Billion in Tax Revenue, Employs More Than 63,000 Workers

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—Eighty years ago today, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah became the last three of the required 36 states to ratify the 21st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ending Prohibition and repealing the 18th Amendment.
This Amendment paved the way for the modern three-tier beverage alcohol system that today delivers to consumers the widest array of choices in a manner that guarantees safety and ensures appropriate government oversight and tax collection, according to the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA).
“Even today, we see consumers in Europe, Asia and Latin America suffer serious consequences and even death because of adulterated or counterfeit beverage alcohol,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said. “These illicit market problems are virtually non-existent in the United States—our successful regulatory structure and close working relationship between beverage industry firms and regulators are a direct result of the system enacted in the wake of 21st Amendment,” Wolf added.
He also pointed out, that today’s wine and spirits wholesale industry generates $55 billion in tax revenue to state and federal governments each year and employs more than 63,000 workers nationwide. These workers collectively earn approximately $5 billion in wages each year. Over the last year, WSWA has conducted a media relations campaign to educate elected officials and key stakeholders about the significant economic impacts of the industry in each of the 36 states that voted to ratify the 21st Amendment.
“The 21st Amendment reflected the broad public view that beverage alcohol is a product to be produced, distributed, sold and consumed under carefully-managed conditions. That is because beverage alcohol is not milk, bread or some other basic consumer product,” Wolf said.
“The legacy of the 21st Amendment is an eight-decade record of constantly-evolving and expanding variety of products from suppliers across the country and around the world delivered to neighborhood markets, bars and restaurants in every corner of the nation. Nowhere else in the world is so much diversity of product distributed to so many locations offering consumers such an array of choices with guaranteed product integrity,” Wolf added.
WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. It is dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesale distributors and brokers of wine and spirits. Founded in 1943, WSWA has 350 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia, and its members distribute more than 70 percent of all wines and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States. More information is available at


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