Vodka is, of course, a cornerstone of Russian culture. How else would you make such lovely statements as, “Let’s drink to kind ladies and other mythological heroes!” and mark the coming together of friends, etc.?
But Russia is a land of extremes, and Russians show a strong tendency to overindulge, on average. They consume approximately 4.75 gallons of pure alcohol per person each year, over twice what the WHO considers a health danger.
The Russian government is showing signs of an impending crackdown that would ban beer sales at kiosks. Besides ruining the beautiful culture of strolling along river banks and boulevards with a cold beer (rather than sinking ever lower under the eardrum-splitting pressure of blasting Europop at a bar filled with lipsticked, pig-faced women and bald, head-butting men), this would fail to address an alcohol problem based on vodka.
In a related example of stupidity, Russian TV is running exaggerated scare-tactic ads such as the following:
Text: “When alcohol enters the blood, red blood cells clot. Clots appear in the bloodstream that lethally block capillaries. Capillaries expand and burst. With the use of 100 grams of vodka up to 8,000 brain cells die. For every drinking session, 10,000 brain cells flow out in your urine the next day. Protect yourself!”
Reducing the alcohol-induced problems of premature death, reduced productivity and population decline is a matter of regulating distillers who make unregulated brand-name knock-offs and taxing vodka more heavily. Fear-mongering TV ads are about as effective as oars on a motorcycle.