Russia toughens beer ban

Duma expands list of places where drinking is outlawed

Nov 30, 2004 - Russia's State Duma continued its crackdown on beer drinking, unanimously approving a tougher version of a ban on public beer sales and consumption that the Federation Council rejected last month for being too soft.


The Duma voted 437-0 in favor of the bill after a 20-member conciliatory committee of lawmakers from both houses agreed to add public transportation and cultural and sports buildings to the list of places where beer sales and consumption will be banned. Medical, educational and youth organizations were already on that list.

The authors of the bill said the new restrictions, together with others that were passed recently, will help combat teenage alcoholism. Beer commercials between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. were banned in September, and a ban on the use of people and animals in ads will come into effect next year.

"I am sure that this law will, nevertheless, be sabotaged by the beer mafia," Deputy Duma Speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky said after the vote. The Russian Brewers' Union and other critics of the bill, which does not mention canned cocktails, say it will do little to curb underage drinking.

"Beer consumption may decrease by at least 25%, while consumption of hard liquor will grow," Galina Grekova, spokeswoman for the brewer Ochakovo, said by e-mail.

Union chief Vyacheslav Mamontov said the law will "fuel corruption" by giving local authorities discretion over where to institute the ban. Mamontov also criticized the bill for unfairly penalizing those on low-income. "The rich are not the ones drinking by the metro."

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