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There was a small attendance at the Theatre Royal last night, when Professor J. A. Nicholls, of Boston, delivered an address on prohibition.

Th» Mayor (Mr 11. Galbraith) pre sided. :

The- Professor said he was very gkuj to have the oppoi-tunity of addrc.-.iing a local audience, but was unaware until his Arrival that he had been adverbi.seci to speak on " Prohibition from the Economic; Standpoint." He explained that he 'had come to New Zealand at the reaiiest of the New Zealand Alliance to give the people here an idea, of Mie progress thnt had been made in the provinces in the United States where" No-license had been carried. They had had a long fight against the liquor traffic, and it had not been an easy one. Tie then went on to deal with the first moderate temperance society in America' over 100 years ago, and the progress that- had since been made in '<\Tif» vvav of combating the liquor trade. Referring; to the effect of alcohol on the human body, he said it was danger-.1 ous;. It was not a stimulant, but a narcotic drug which shortened, human life. It was a habit-forming drug which affected. the brain cells and impaired the, powers of self-control^—the highest powers we possessed. Scientific research had proved that alcohol was one of the best things for preserving the body when it was dead, but one of the worst that could be taken when there was life in. the body. No scien- \ t-ist had claimed - that alcohol was a I stimulant. The speaker then dealt with the various reforms brought about in the United States in an endeavour to lessen drunkenness. First of all, some wise person suggested that if men were not allowed to sit down in the bars they would not drink so much, bo legislation was passed prohibiting seats or tables in the bars. In spite of this, however, drunkenness showed an increase. The fact that people-were'com-pelled to stand when taking drink seemed to increase their thirst. (Laughter.^ Another wise person brought, forward the suggestion that if the screens were taken from the bar windows it would act as n deterrent to ppoplft going in for a. drink. This was looked upon as being /v-gond suggestion, flvd legisljffcioX, WJ*s passed accordingly. Hotelkeepers were asked to remove the screens, and any attempt to replace them or put anything in the window that would interfere with the view of the public was done at the risk of the license being cancelled. The thirsty ones were thus obliged to consume the if ' alcohol in full view of the public, but even this did not have the desired effect. Drunkenness continued on the increase, i Legislation was then introduced making: it illegal to have the back-doors of the liquor houses open, but without avail. Even the raising of the fees for licenses and the subsequent increase in the price of spirits failed to produce the desired result. The sale of liquor under Government supervision was a farce. It was utterly ridiculous to license one man to sell alcohol am 1 then look tp another mnn to whom ,the licensee cold it because he became intoxicated. They then fought for local option, and in spite of the fact that the women did not have a vote,they carried it. and would now shortly have prohibition throughout the United States. The speaker then dealt with the progress made by the cities under prohibition as compared with license, taking Cambridge- as an example. This city was one of ; the world's test-known centres of education and literature, and a fair trial had been given with thecity' 10 years under license and 10 years under '.prohibition. Under the period of license the population showed an increase of 11,820, as compared with 21.985 for the same time under prohibition. Under no-license the number of new houses had increased by double, savings bank deposits showed an increase from'lss,ooo. to/366,000 dollars, and in every respect the city had made wonderful progress. It had been stated that when the liquor houses were closed the, towns would be dead and grass would grow in the streets. He much preferred grass to dram-shops. The latter were of no use to anybody, but grass would provide feed for cows, and the milk would be the means of keeping someone alive. (Laughter.) He quoted statistics showing that the death rate -in licensed districts in America was 24 per cent, higher than in the dry areas. Where the dram-shops were open there 'was three times more drunkenness, and drunkenness amongst women was five times greater. Crime showed an increase of 50 per cent., and there was 150 per cent, more child labour employed in web areas than in places where the liquor trade had been wiped out. Taxes, instead of increasing, as many people thought, had decreased where prohibition had been carried, and the wages generally were -higher, because the men were more efficient. Statistics also showed that the open hotels were responsible for 30 per cent, fewer pupils attending the high schools. The people of the United States were thoroughly convinced of the injury done by the liquor traffic, and were going to wipe it out completely. There were now only three small States which had not yet fallen into line, but these would follow shortly. In securing prohibition he; considered they had achieved one of the greatest moral victories in the history of the world. He had been sur prised at some of the arguments put forward by the liquor party. With regard to the value placed by some noon certain alcoholic drink in connection with influenza, he stated that when the epidemic broke out in his province the health officer issued a bulletin warning people not to touch it, as it destroyed the powers of self-control —the "very worst thing that could-happen at such n critical time.

At the close of Ms- lecture Professor Nicholls was accorded a hearty vote of thanks. • ■ \. ' ■

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Bibliographic details

PROHIBITION., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9576, 3 April 1919

Word Count

PROHIBITION. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9576, 3 April 1919

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