Absinthe--Is Its History Relevant for Current Public Health?

Martijn Huisman; Johannes Brug; Johan Mackenbach


Int J Epidemiol. 2007;36(4):738-744. 

In This Article

The Ban on Absinthe

In the end, absinthe manufacturers could not parry the torrents of negative attention given to absinthe by politicians, the medical community, the media, the wine industry and the blue cross. Absinthe was constantly and continuously being associated with madness, suicide, criminal behaviour and national degeneration. One particular affair illustrates the sentiment that prevailed among many at the beginning of the 20th century. A Swiss peasant, Jean Lanfray, was found one morning lying on top of the dead body of his daughter in his yard, lying asleep. The day before he had killed his family, his pregnant wife and two daughters, with his old army rifle, but he had no recollection of doing it when he was taken to see their corpses by the police. When the police investigation showed that Lanfray had drunk two glasses of absinthe, the murders quickly became known as the 'absinthe murders' (even though Lanfray also had several glasses of wine, a crème de menthe and brandy).[30] Finally, by 1908, following the Lanfray-affair, Switzerland put the ban on absinthe. France followed in 1915, during World War I.


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