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Spirit drinking was still largely for medicinal purposes throughout most of the sixteenth century. It has been said of distilled alcohol that “the sixteenth century created it; the seventeenth century consolidated it; the eighteenth popularized it.” The dawn of the eighteenth century saw the British Parliament pass legislation designed to encourage the use of grain for distilling spirits. Encouraged by public policy, very cheap spirits flooded the market at a time when there was little stigma attached to drunkenness and when the growing urban poor in London sought relief from the newfound insecurities and harsh realities of urban life. After its dramatic peak, gin consumption rapidly declined. A number of factors appear to have converged to discourage consumption of gin. Groups that began by promoting the moderate use of alcohol instead of its abuse would ultimately form temperance movements and press for the complete and total prohibition of the production and distribution of beverage alcohol..