As of last week, Russian law prohibits the sale of beer at sidewalk kiosks and restricts its sale in other stores between 11:00 pm and 8:00 am. Kiosks, which represent a significant portion of the country’s retail business, accounted for about 30 percent of beer sales, according to statistics, and in some places it was the most popular item sold. One kiosk manager said, “For business it’s bad, and there are large layoffs for staff…but on the other hand the law is justified to have people drink less.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Anything involving alcohol and its use will generate a great deal of debate among people in Russia, which has one of the world’s highest rates of alcoholism and alcohol-related diseases. Despite the fact that it’s the second most popular alcoholic drink behind vodka, prior to the law going into effect beer was classified as a food. The government hopes that the new law will also reduce public drinking, which was made easier with the ubiquity of kiosks. A worker at a kiosk near a central Moscow square thinks it might work: “People in the square relaxed, drank beer, round the clock…[N]ow, well, the government needs people not to drink.”