Cheap gin, first imported from the Netherlands in the 1690s, became an extremely popular drink in the early 18th century. Politicians and religious leaders began to argue that gin drinking encouraged laziness and criminal behaviour. In 1729 Parliament increased the tax on gin and this led to complaints culminating in the 1743 Gin Riots. The government responded by reducing duties and penalties, claiming that moderate measures would be easier to enforce.
Gin drinking continued to be a problem and by the 1740s the British were consuming 8,000,000 gallons a year. It was estimated that in some pasts of London over a quarter of the houses were gin shops. in 1751 the government took action and greatly increased duties on gin. The sale by distillers and shopkeepers was now strictly controlled and these measures successfully reduced the consumption of gin in Britain.