BEER . . . IT’S NOT FOR BREAKFAST ANY MORE
It’s not just Homer Simpson who considers beer to be food. Lagers, ales, and pilsners were long considered “food” by the Russian government, but thanks to a new rule that went into effect on January 1, beer is going to be more difficult to come by. The story has more to do with beer’s history of being treated like a soft drink rather than alcohol than about actually eating beer. Under previous law, beer was classified as food and could be sold at street kiosks, gas stations and bus depots. Now, beer can only be sold in licensed outlets and not between 11pm and 8am. Beer commercials have also been outlawed. These steps were taken as part of the government’s efforts to reduce alcohol abuse in the country where one in five male deaths are linked to booze, according to world health experts. More specifically, The average Russian drinks the equivalent of 32 pints of pure alcohol per year and about 5OO,OOO deaths annually are thought to be drink-related. That includes a large number of about 3O,OOO annual road accident deaths and of several thousand cases of drowning. You could make the argument, however, that the real problem isn’t being addressed. Fifty percent of alcohol sales in Russia are vodka, 32% are beer and 1O% wine.