Russia targets beer in fight against alcoholism

With a stroke of the presidential pen, beer was recently reclassified as an alcoholic drink in Russia, no longer a foodstuff, and its sales are to be restricted to cut alcohol abuse.

"Up to now, beer has not been considered alcohol in Russia but as a simple soft drink, like lemonade" that could be sold "anywhere and at any time," said parliamentary deputy Viktor Zvagelsky of the ruling United Russia party.

But starting January 2013 a new licensing law signed by President Dmitry Medvedev will ban beer sales from 11 pm to 8 am except in bars and cafes.

The law will also prohibit selling beer in street kiosks and drinking it in public places.

"Now beer will largely be regulated in the same way as other spirits," Zvagelsky said.

Healthcare professionals have praised the crackdown.

"Young people are introduced (to alcohol) through beer and ... switch to strong alcoholic drinks," said Evgenia Koshkina of the National Centre for Addictions Research.

Alcohol abuse kills half a million Russians a year and lowers life expectancy, which currently stands at 60 for men, lower than in countries such as Bangladesh and Honduras, according to the World Health Organisation.

But Koshkina doubts the effectiveness of the new law given the high rate of alcoholism in the country, saying that "people are not accustomed to respect laws."

Kirill Bolmatov, a manager at Russia's fifth-largest brewery, SABMiller, critised the decision to focus on beer instead of spirits.

"(Easy) access to strong spirits contributes to (high) alcoholism. One litre of vodka costs about four euros ($5.70) in Russia, a very low price" unimaginable in Europe.

The new law has struck fear into local brewers and foreign importers in Russia, the world's fourth largest beer market that has seen steady growth.

According to a survey by the Public Opinion Group, beer is the favourite drink of 39 percent of Russians, while 32 percent said they preferred vodka.

"In street kiosks, beer sales make up nearly half of the overall profits," said Bolmatov.

The law will be "a heavy blow to small businesses and jobs," he predicted, while it will have little effect on big brewers.

"They may not see more growth, but at least they will maintain a stable volume of sales."

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Relations Officer

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Help Desk Support

    £14500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Help Desk Support individ...

    Recruitment Genius: Interim HR Advisor

    £27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are going through an excitin...

    Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

    £37500 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced Quantity Surveyor r...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable