Leaving aside the difficulty in determining actual use statistics of alcohol during Prohibition some 70-plus years after the fact, if the thesis is indeed true, it doesn’t necessarily mean Prohibition was a success as a public policy. If the narrow argument is only that Prohibition reduced alcohol consumption, fine. That’s a simple question that is only complicated by the vagueness of available statistics. If you are, however, arguing that Prohibition was a successful public policy, there are a number of other effects that have to be considered. I would hardly think that providing organized crime with an almost guaranteed revenue stream is a desirable outcome of a public policy. I also don’t think the widespread disrespect of the law that policies like prohibition engender is an optimal result. However, I’m not a public health researcher.
Truthfully, I find all public health research that doesn’t directly involve contagious diseases to be somewhat suspect. Calling the results of individual choices a “public health epidemic”, as has been done with smoking, drug use, and obesity, simply means that some asshat busybody wants to tell you what to do under the guise that it will improve “public health”. It is, once again, the naked contempt of some academic wanker who thinks you and all the rest of the public are too stupid to make “correct” choices. Only those with greater knowledge and understanding are permitted to make choices, because all you proles will inevitably screw it up. The dream of the enlightened philosopher-king dies hard in academia and elsewhere, doesn’t it?