Sunday, February 27, 2011

Russia Finally Classifies Beer as an Alcoholic Beverage

Apparently, beer is widely considered in Russia to be a "soft drink". In the country where an estimated 500,000 people die annually from alcohol-related causes and the average life expectancy of a man is about 60, it is "not uncommon to see men swigging a can of beer on their way to work or teenagers downing a swift lunchtime beer or two in the park". Officially classified as a foodstuff, it is not regulated in the manner of hard liquor and wine, allowing it to be sold at any hour and in any quantity. This is changing, according to London's Daily Telegraph, as President Medvedev attempts to combat the national drinking problem. A bill is moving through the Duma that would reclassify beer as an alcoholic drink, requiring stricter regulation of its sale. As a cheap alternative to the more popular vodka, beer consumption has tripled in Russia since the 1990's. The country is the third biggest consumer after the U.S. and China (despite having only half the population of the U.S. and a ninth of the population of China). On the whole, Russians drink double the maximum recommended amount of alcohol, as determined by the World Health Organization, - more than 32 pints of pure alcohol per person per year!


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