Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.
An article from Slate looks at a forgotten chapter of Prohibition history: the government program to poison alcohol in an attempt to keep people from converting industrial alcohol into liquor —even though they knew that it would kill many, particularly those who were too poor to afford good-quality illegal liquor.