Moscow bans nighttime sales of spirits

Sunday 18 September 2011 14:39

Moscow is to ban sales of spirits and other strong alcohol at night and in the early hours of the morning in a bid to wean Russia off one of its biggest health scourges, reports said Wednesday.

According to a decree signed by Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov, shops in the Russian capital will no longer be able to sell drinks containing more than 15 percent alcohol between 10:00 pm and 10:00 am.

This will prevent Muscovites from buying strong spirits like vodka and cognac late at night but will not affect sales of beer and wine. It remains to be seen how the ban will be implemented.

The ban will come into force on September 1, the RIA Novosti and Interfax news agencies said.

A previous ban had prevented the sale of spirits between 11:00 pm and 8:00 am in Moscow but it contained a gigantic loophole allowing shops to sell alcohol 24 hours a day in agreement with the local authorities.

Russia earlier this summer implemented a zero tolerance ban on drink-driving passed by parliament after President Dmitry Medvedev said that Russians could still not be trusted with drink.

It has also imposed a new minimum legal price for vodka in a bid to hinder the sale of cut-price black market moonshine blamed for the deaths of thousands of Russians every year.

Alcohol abuse kills some 500,000 Russians annually and greatly impacts male life expectancy, which is lower than in impoverished countries such as Bangladesh or Honduras, according to official figures.

"People are not able to look after their health. This needs to be learned," Medvedev said in a television interview in 2009 when he announced the drink-driving ban.

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