The Moscow city authorities plan to drastically cut the number of alcohol stores in the Russian capital in a bid to improve Muscovites’ health, according to a draft plan on the Moscow government’s website on Saturday.
The document, prepared by the city’s economic policy and urban development department, proposes cutting the number of these stores by 90 percent and gradually reducing the number of alcohol trade licenses by 20 percent annually until 2015.
The Moscow city’s strategy also envisages tripling penalties for drinking in public places, including consumption of beer and other low-alcohol beverages.
Russia has been struggling with the problem of heaving drinking for decades. In August 2009 President Dmitry Medvedev called the drinking epidemic a national disaster and later instructed the government to work out measures to fight alcohol abuse.
Per capita consumption of alcohol in Russia stands at 17 liters of pure ethanol a year, compared to the maximum of eight liters recommended by the World Health Organization.
Seventy-six percent of Russians drink regularly. Alcohol kills 75,000 people a year directly, and many more die of related health problems.
Statistics show Russians start drinking at an average age 14.
In early 2010, the Russian government presented a ten-year plan for fighting alcohol abuse including measures including tightening the requirements for production and retail sale of alcohol.