August 24, 2009

Russian President Medvedev Takes on Alcoholism

He clearly has flat out stopped caring about how the Russian population views him. Gorbachev tried this, too, Medvezhyonok. It didn't really boost his popularity at all. Of course, Russians recently listed alcoholism as the biggest threat to the country (a bigger threat than NATO expansion). This could work. Good luck with this decision. I respect it.

According to Yahoo News, Medvedev intends to start a war on alcoholism. The facts: every Russian man, woman and child consumes the equivalent of 4.8 gallons (18 liters) of pure rubbing alcohol per year, according to the National Institute of Health. Real quick, how do any Russians make it past age 30? They must have super livers to consume that much alcohol.

About a million Russians die each year from alcohol - and smoking-related causes — between 600,000 and 700,000 of those deaths are attributed to drinking alone, Andrei Demin, of Russia’s Public Health Association, told Fox News.

“It’s threatening the future of the country,” he said.

The problem? Unlike other countries, Russia has refused to levy hefty taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to discourage drinking and smoking.

The resulting statistics are staggering:

- The average Russian drinks 50 bottles of vodka a year.

- A bottle of beer can be purchased on the street for less than the cost of a bottle of water.

- Twelve million of Russia’s 141 million residents have died over the past 15 years due to alcohol-and smoking-related causes.

- A pack of cigarettes can be purchased for about 30 cents.

- The average Russian male lives to be 60 years old, dying 15 years earlier than his American counterpart. Russian women die 13 years earlier than American women.

Although the country has launched a series of television commercials encouraging Russians to choose healthier lifestyles, many critics say this is of little benefit.

Anyway, Medvedev's plan: raise taxes on alcohol, toughen labeling laws and ban the sale of alcohol at kiosks and small stores, allowing only big retail outlets a safe distance from any schools, universities, or leisure centers to sell booze. The Duma is apparently on board. We'll see what happens when they reconvene in the fall.