Tags: Russia | vodka | prices | drinking

Russia Raises Vodka Prices to Curb Drinking

Monday, 04 Jan 2010 10:04 AM

 

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is hoping for some New Year's resolution among his countrymen, as he takes on one of Russia's most deeply-entrenched and prickliest problems - alcoholism.

From 1 January, restrictions on the price of vodka in Russia come into force.

The cheapest bottle of vodka on sale will be 89 roubles (around £1.80; $3) for a half-litre bottle. While that still might sound cheap, the new law is all part of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's plan to tackle alcoholism in Russia.

Russians drink seriously. As a country they get through on average about 18 litres (32 pints) of pure alcohol a year.

Last year, when Mr Medvedev kick-started his campaign, he called Russia's alcohol problem a "national disgrace" and said he was determined to cut that figure by a quarter by 2012.

But combating the consumption of what most Russians consider to be their national drink is a brave political move considering the lack of success his predecessors have had.

The last time anyone tried it was 24 years ago, when Russia was part of the Soviet Union.

Then, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev drastically cut vodka production and did not allow it to be sold before 2pm.

This law is not the solution, it is just a small step, albeit a positive one, in the fight against alcoholism
Dr Elena Igorevna
Moscow Scientific Centre for Substance Abuse

Significantly, perfume was also not to be sold before midday as people were starting to drink that.

Officially, lives were saved and alcoholism dropped, but Soviet state revenues took a massive hit and so did Mr Gorbachev's popularity. President Medvedev cannot allow either of those things to happen to him.

What Mr Medvedev does know, though, is that if he can reduce alcoholism in Russia, he is likely to improve health and life-expectancy, and therefore raise Russia's GDP.

At the moment, bootleg vodka is available at around 40 roubles a half litre. So even though $3 for bottle of vodka may seem cheap to most people, it is double the price of the bootleg version.

Importantly for the government, the minimum-price law brings in a way of telling what is illegal and what is not, and attempts to claw back some tax revenue.

To read full BBC story — Go Here Now.

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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