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.

82 Years—65,000 Reasons to Say Cheers

Prohibition Repealed December 5, 1933

(WASHINGTON)—Eighty-two years ago this week, the required number of states voted to ratify the 21st Amendment, ending the failed experiment of Prohibition.  To mark the occasion, the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) released updated data documenting the significant economic impact of the wholesale tier and the beverage alcohol industry at large.

According to WSWA’s state economic database, American family-owned wholesalers employ more than 65,000 workers at some 4,000 locations nationwide.  These workers earn a collective $5 billion in wages each year and the industry generates $55 billion in tax revenue. 

“In the eighty-two years since Prohibition, the modern U.S. three-tier beverage alcohol system has created a model for the rest of the world.  No other country offers consumers the variety and choice seen in the American marketplace, produced, distributed and sold in a manner that guarantees product integrity and safety as well as adequate regulatory oversight,” said WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf.

“Countries in all corners of the world regularly deal with the threat of adulterated or counterfeit alcohol entering their marketplace—these issues are virtually nonexistent in the U.S. market, largely because of the three-tier system and the regulatory model enacted following Prohibition.  Today, we’re proud to tout both our safety and our significant economic contributions,” Wolf added.

A brief video commemorating the anniversary can be viewed here.  WSWA’s State Economic Database is available here and includes customizable reports on every state and Congressional District.

WSWA is the national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry, dedicated to advancing the interests and independence of wholesalers, distributors and brokers of wine and spirits.  Founded in 1943, WSWA has 362 member companies in 50 states and the District of Columbia and its members distribute more than 80 percent of all wine and spirits sold at wholesale in the United States.  More information is available at

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