Russia to ban night-time spirits sales

The Russian authorities are banning off-license sales of spirits at night, in an effort to curb Russia’s drinking culture.

The law is being changed to prohibit retailers from selling any type of spirits between the hours of 10pm and 10am. This follows on from a previous, widely ignored law, that banned the sale of any drink over 15% abv between 11pm and 8am.

Vodka dominates the Russian spirits market at roughly 70% of sales. Russia already raised the minimum price on a bottle of vodka to 89 roubles (£1.87), and increased the excise duties on beer, and is considering cutting sales at street kiosks. Police have also begun enforcing a zero drink-drive limit and there are further plans to make selling alcohol to minors a criminal, rather than an administrative, offence.

It is thought that half a million people die of alcohol-related causes in Russia every year, with the average Russian consuming a litre and a half of pure alcohol every month. It is now the main cause of premature death in adult males.

President Medvedev has previously talked of his shock at what he called “colossal” levels of drinking and has set about combating over-consumption and its links to black market production and supply.

Of course this sort of ban can make the problem worse. It is thought that currently around 51% of the spirits available on the market are distilled illegally! And during Gorbachev’s drink clamp down in the 80’s, there was a big surge in potentially fatal moonshine made from alcohols found in aftershave, boot polish and even window cleaner. So the death rate might actually rise because of this!

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