The Effects of the British Gin Tax

By SSG

 

The distillation of gin, first common in Britain during the 18th century, led to
many social and economic changes. In the preamble of the gin act of 1751, the British
government implied that the health of its citizens was the sole reason for the act. In truth
it was a combination of social and economic reasons that led to the gin act. Gin led to the
forming of taverns and distillation stills, and the owners of these establishments became
wealthy as gin gained popularity. The down side of this was that the people who drank
gin became vagabonds. This led to a decline in taxes and productivity, causing the
government to intervene.

The British government intervention was aimed at maintaining the productivity of
the people, and therefore protect the power of the nation. The British government used
the gin act to bring the nation back to the productive days before the distillation of gin.
Gin had a weakening effect on the abilities of the drinker, and limiting the availability of
gin was an attempt to make the nation more prolific. Gin caused many people to loose
their ability to work, often causing them to commit crimes in order to continue drinking.
In this fashion, gin had a detrimental effect on the British people.

Gin was a useful economic product. Daniel Defoe stated that distilling gin allows
surplus grain to be used. The people who worked in the distillation trade prospered
during this period. The production of gin increased 600% over the first 40 years of the
18th century. Trade was booming, and the government taxes provided the nation with a
constant source of revenues.

The gin act controlled the sale of gin. It limited the gin distillers to selling the gin
to licensed merchants. The license where limited to merchants with large property
holdings, and a large fee was charge to obtain a license. In this way, the government not
only controlled the industry, but profited from it.

Overall, the issues involved in the gin act had little effect on the preamble of the
gin act. This preamble was a euphemism, and an attempt to hide the real purpose of the
gin act, the government wanting to collect taxes.