WHO Lexicon of alcohol and drug terms Temperance

Definition: Temperance A term of varying usage concerning alcohol and other drugs; originally meaning a commitment to moderation in personal drinking habits (e.g. by abstaining from drinking spirits), but after the 1840s usually meaning a personal commitment to total abstinence (the temperance pledge). After the 1850s it often implied a commitment to local, national, or global alcohol control, usually with the aim of eventual prohibition of the sale of alcoholic beverages (hence prohibitionist). In line with the broad concerns of such temperance societies as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), temperance sometimes referred also to a broader range of behaviours, including abstinence from tobacco and other drug use.

“New temperance” or “neo-temperance” has been used since the 1980s to characterize individuals and groups committed to greater alcohol control or a more coherent alcohol policy , or the shift in public sentiment reflected in many countries in a decline in alcohol consumption. “Neo-prohibitionist” is used more pejoratively for the same referents.


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