Russian Bear & Beer

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a bill that officially classifies beer as alcoholic. Until now anything containing less than 10% alcohol in Russia has been considered a foodstuff. Russian alcohol consumption is already twice the critical level set by the World Health Organization. Although vodka has long been the traditional tipple in Russia, beer has soared in popularity, being marketed as a healthier alternative to spirits. Over the past decade, beer sales in Russia have risen more than 40% while vodka sales have fallen by nearly 30%. Currently, it is common to see people swigging beer in the street and in parks as if they are drinking soft drinks. Last year the Russian beer industry was hit by a 200% tax hike on its products as ministers sought to bring consumption under control. The new measures – which come into effect in 2013 – will stop alcohol being sold in unlicensed kiosks, ban its sale from stores between certain hours and restrict its advertising.