The idea that alcohol is a corrupting influence on human nature has been around for a long time. In the United States, the temperance movement started almost immediately after the Revolution ended. The temperance movement in the United States was strong, especially throughout the 19th century. It eventually led to the passing of the 18th amendment in 1920.
The temperance movement in the rest of the world wasn’t nearly as successful. The movement in the UK truly got going in the mid-19th century. But it never really gained national attention or momentum like it did in the United States. By the time it did gain some attention, the United States had been suffering through the terrible idea that Prohibition ended up being for several years, and the temperance movement died a painful but quick death by 1924.
That isn’t to say that the British Government didn’t do some things to curtail the use of alcohol, but it was never the true ban of such drink like the Americans did in 1920.
In 1914, Parliament passed the Defense of the Realm Act, which amongst other things dictated how long bars and pubs could be open, and mandated that beer be watered down. It also taxed alcohol much more severely than it had before. There was also the State Management Scheme in 1916 that nationalized several breweries around armament factories.
However, beyond the fact that it never became a true focus for the British as there were wars to be fought (the UK was deeply involved in World War I and World War II right from the beginning of both wars, whereas the US didn’t join either war until years after their official beginning). The UK was also able to see how unproductive and how unenforceable Prohibition turned out to be in the US.
In 1920, the US ratified the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, and the sale, transportation and production of alcohol became illegal nationwide. It was the culmination of almost a century of lobbying by several organizations that made up the American Temperance movement.
In theory, the idea behind Prohibition is fine. But it is unsurprising that Americans thoroughly rebelled against the idea of the Government imposing the morals of the few on the masses. Illegal distributors of alcohol popped up in locals called speakeasys, bootleggers brewed drinks using industrial alcohol by denaturing it, and the government did its best to shut down everything having to do with alcohol. It even went so far as to poison those industrial alcohols in hopes of getting people to stop drinking.
Needless to say, in the end, the United States government found Prohibition much more difficult to enforce than they probably thought it would be.
It is also interesting to note that Prohibition played a role in the foreign relations of the US government as well. Winston Churchill, for example, had quite a bit to say about American prohibition. He even had a great way around it.