Alcohol consumption drops in Russia

Alcohol consumption drops in RussiaMoscow, Dec 29 : Russia has seen a fall in alcohol sales over the past two years from 18 liters to 15 liters per capita a year, a minister said.

In an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta daily published Wednesday, First Deputy Prime Minister V. Zubkov attributed the drop to restrictions that have been enforced recently.

Illicit vodka sales have also fallen and now account for a little over 20 percent, he said.

"Of course this level is far from satisfactory but remember that just a couple years ago it was almost 50 percent," Zubkov said.

The restrictions already in force include a ban on late-night sales of alcohol, and in an effort to fight bootlegging, Russia has introduced a minimum price for vodka.

The Russian government has declared an anti-alcohol campaign and aims to halve consumption by 2020 and root out illegal production and sales.

Official statistics in Russia show more than 23,000 people die of alcohol poisoning annually. According to Russia's Public Chamber, some 500,000 people die annually from alcohol-related diseases.

Despite the latest decline, alcohol consumption in Russia is almost double the critical level set by the World Health Organization.(IANS)