Russia's drink problems acknowledged


Russian president Vladimir Putin has said alcoholism is a serious problem in Russia.

It has one of the world’s highest alcohol consumption rates, according to the World Health Organisation. A 2011 WHO study says every fifth death among Russian men and 6 per cent of deaths among women are attributable to alcohol abuse.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev signed amendments to alcohol laws in July 2011 to reclassify beer as liquor. The new law, which came into effect yesterday, restricts the amount of beer that stalls and kiosks can sell and bans sales from 11pm-8am.

Beer companies operating in Russia include Danish brewer Carlsberg and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

The big brewers rely on emerging market growth and price rises to offset tough conditions in mature European markets. However, initial success in Russia has come up against a series of profit-sapping government measures in recent years.

In 2012 Russian taxes on beer rose by 20 per cent and, according to a finance ministry plan approved in 2011, will rise by a further 25 per cent in 2013 and 20 per cent in 2014. Russia has also raised the minimum price for vodka and has banned drinks advertising in the media, including on the internet.