Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Sunday sales latest step in relaxing state’s alcohol laws

Before alcohol was voted legal to sell on Sundays on February 22, the alcohol aisles in stores such as Target and Publix continued to be roped off every Sunday in accordance with the Alabama Blue Laws that ban sales on that day. Blue Laws originated hundreds of years ago during the colonial period in observance of Sunday as a day of worship or rest, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States’ website,

After Prohibition was repealed by the 21st Amendment on Dec. 5, 1933, each state created its own system of beverage alcohol control, according to the Distilled Spirits Council. Alabama is one of 18 “control states,” meaning that the state maintains a monopoly as the sole wholesaler of spirits within its borders and also acts as the retailer of bottled spirits sold in its state stores. “Licensed states,” on the other hand, make up the majority of the nation. These states operate on a three-tier system that requires alcohol producers to sell their products to a state licensed wholesaler who in turn sells the product to a state-licensed retailer.

Since 2002, 14 states have authorized Sunday spirits sales, bringing the total to 36. Today, 14 states ban the sales of distilled spirits on Sunday.

The Alabama Department of Archives and history website said prohibition has long been an issue in the state. “The Bone Dry” law was enacted in 1915 because prohibition forces controlled the state legislature. Consequently, Alabama was a dry state before federal Prohibition was ratified in 1920.

“Residents generally believed that the Noble Experiment would improve health, increase safety, reduce violence, raise public morality and create a better environment for young people,” David J. Hanson, professor emeritus of sociology at the State University of New York at Potsdam wrote on his website, ‘Alcohol Problems and Solutions.’ “However, it quickly became apparent that Prohibition was not having the desired outcomes. In the first year of the new law, Alabama became the leading state in the country in the number of illegal moonshine stills found.”

Hanson has researched the subject of alcohol and drinking for more than 40 years, received alcohol research grants from federal and state agencies, published more than two dozen chapters in books on alcohol, prepared articles for several encyclopedias and published two books on alcohol.

A plot to “exterminate” all Prohibition enforcement officers operating in the northern part of the state was discovered after the death of one officer and the wounding of two others, according to Hanson. He said Prohibition promoted abusive drinking and deprived the state of needed revenue while concurrently causing increased expenses for taxpayers.

“Nevertheless, much temperance sentiment remains many decades after Repeal,” Hanson writes. “Anti-alcohol attitudes are reflected in high taxes on alcohol and restrictions on the sale of alcoholic beverages on Sunday, the second busiest shopping day of the week. Perhaps in the 21st century residents will finally finish the job of Repeal and end all vestiges of that failed experiment in social engineering known as Prohibition.”

Additionally, the Alabama Blue Laws imposes restrictions on home brewing, container size and breweries. “Free the Hops,” an organization also known as “Alabamians for Specialty Beer,” said on their website that the 16 oz. container size limit makes it impossible to sell many specialty beers that are often 20 oz. Also, brewpubs must be located in a “historic building” to operate.

Doug Nelson, owner of The Houndstooth Sports Bar on The Strip, said he is definitely in favor of the ban being lifted.

“We’re very supportive because it’s an extra day to be open,” he said. “I’ve been in this business over 20 years, and we have never had Sunday sales so it’s kind of venturing into the unknown as to whether or not it will be profitable.”

Tuscaloosa City Councilwoman Cynthia Lee Almond agreed that moving to seven-day sales will be beneficial.

“The benefits of having seven-day sales is the purported increase in sales tax generated, and therefore more money goes to the city for spending on roads, sewer, police, fire, etc,” Almond said. “We are also told by the convention industry that more conventions will host their event in a city that has seven-day sales, and some major restaurant chains will only locate in a town that has seven-day sales.”

Almond said that the Alabama State Constitution stipulates a local amendment must be passed to allow Tuscaloosa and other similarly sized cities to vote on seven-day sales and the council had to obtain permission from the Alabama Legislature.

“We really have not debated this issue as a council,” Almond said. “We were unanimous in our repeated asking of our local state legislative delegation for permission for the public to vote on the issue.”


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