Russian alcohol consumption falls amid health drive
The UN body credited the decline of consumption to government alcohol-control measures implemented, more awareness about healthy lifestyles and a steep decline in the consumption of bootleg alcohol.
Russian life expectancy reached a “historic peak” last year at 68 for men and 78 for women, the report said.
In the early 1990s, male life expectancy was 57.
Consumption was once one of the highest levels in the world but Russia had now become a role model for combating high mortality from alcohol consumption, WHO specialist Carina Ferreira-Borges said.
Alcohol consumption had long been recognised as “one of the main driving factors of mortality in the Russian federation, especially among men of working age”, the WHO reported.
The final Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, led an alcohol campaign with partial prohibition, which cut consumption from the mid-1980s until 1990. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union, consumption exploded, continuing to rise throughout the unstable decade.
Alcohol-control measures introduced in the early 2000s, including advertising restrictions, increased taxes and a ban on sales after 11pm, have resulted in a decrease in mortality, with the greatest changes occurring in deaths linked to alcohol, the study said.
Moscow’s all-night kiosks selling vodka, beer and whole, dried fish taped to the glass have gone. Restrictions also apply to beer, which was not regarded as alcohol in the past.
Street drinking is also banned and regular police fines have ensured the rules are followed.
WHO data suggests Russian adults drink less alcohol on average than their French and German counterparts.
The restrictions have coincided with the expansion of the middle class. Many Russians have become increasingly health-conscious, like their western counterparts and President Vladimir Putin. He has filled calendars with his manly poses during his years in power, becoming a gay icon as an unwelcome byproduct.
But drinking patterns are linked to wealth. In poorer communities, drinking cheap surrogates and homemade alcohol is still common.
Moscow has also launched a drive against smoking and last week tobacco consumption on private balconies was outlawed.
Smoking fell by more than a fifth between 2009 and 2016 to 30 per cent of Russians, according to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey.
St Petersburg. Picture credit: Wikimedia