Russian President Vladimir Putin is waging an effort to keep Russians from dying of tobacco and alcohol abuse. Russia has the world’s fourth highest per-capital alcohol consumption, and smoking and drinking kill 900,000 people per year in a country with a population of 143 million. This alcohol and tobacco abuse costs the Russian economy 5 percent of its GDP, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
After instituting measures to reduce alcohol consumption last year, parliament will now consider a law to ban smoking in public places, advertising and kiosk sales. Russia previously passed a law to increase the minimum price of a half-liter of vodka to 125 rubles ($4) and has cut its alcohol consumption from 18 liters per capita to 15 liters per capita—a number still well above the recommended WHO accepted consumption limit of 8 liters. The government also banned public drinking, alcohol sales between 11 p.m. And 8 a.m., and beer advertising on TV, radio, billboards and the internet.
However, the government’s past approach shows the failure of ignoring treatment and focusing mostly on the alcohol supply instead of the demand. Mikhail Gorbachev waged a similar campaign in 1985 and drastically reduced the supply of alcohol in 1985, but Russians responded by making it at home instead.