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Russia, which is currently at the 4th place in the world ranking of alcohol consumption, has decided to start a war against alcohol by introducing a new law.
According to the Associated Press’ report in January, the Russian government has enacted a new law to change beer’s status from “beverage” to “alcohol” in order to reduce national alcohol consumption.
Under the new law, Russian people will only be allowed to buy beer at restaurants, cafe, or stores with a size of over 50m2. It will be banned for regular stores to sell beer between 11PM and 8AM the following day. Within this time period, people are now allowed to have beer in public spaces, such as parks, beaches, or playgrounds. In addition, the Russian government entirely banned the Russian media from airing alcohol commercials.
So far, Russian people have purchased beer from a small chain of stores on the street called “KIOSK.” However, the sight of people drinking beer on the street will soon be disappearing.
In fact, it is not the first effort to reduce people’s alcohol consumption in Russia. In 2011, Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev named Russia’s excessive drinking the “nation’s disaster,” pushing for several regulations in order to curb the alcohol consumption. The Russian government imposed 20 percent increased taxation on beer, and it is planning to further increase the tax by 20 percent this year and then 25 percent more the following year. Russian people’s favorite drink, the vodka, was not exempt from regulatory measures. The price of vodka in Russia has increased by 36 percent this year compared to that of last year.
The excessive alcohol consumption is a deep-rooted problem in Russia. Russian adult men drink between 16-32 liters a year on average, and about 500,000 people die due to alcohol-related problems every year.
According to the World Trade Organization (WTO)’s report last year, the Russians’ alcohol consumption was 15.8L per person on average, which makes the world’s fourth highest consumption level. WTO also added that one out of five men and six percent of the entire Russian women population die because of the excessive alcohol consumption.
The British newspaper Telegraph reported that vodka has been the most popular alcohol in Russia for many years, but beer has caught up with vodka’s popularity in recent years. The newspaper added a quote by the head of the Russian Beer Brewer Association that the new law will increase the consumption of vodka, and cause more serious problems.