Russia slaps ban on alcohol advertising in media

Beer drinker During the past decade, beer sales in Russia have risen by more than 40%

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A far-reaching ban on alcohol advertising has gone into effect in Russia - part of a campaign to tackle the country's drink problem.

The ban prohibits alcohol advertising on television, radio, the internet, public transport and billboards.

The ban will also apply to print media from 1 January. Even now they can only put such ads on the inside pages.

The move is likely to hit legitimate producers but not black market liquor traders, one expert told the BBC.

"Take some distillery in some Caucasus republic which produces and sells vodka under the counter very cheaply, generally without duty or sales tax - I don't think that distillery will suffer," said Dmitry Dobrov, Chairman of the Russian Union of Alcohol Producers.

Speaking to the BBC Russian Service, Mr Dobrov also said it was not clear how the ban could be enforced on the internet. He said some firms would probably spend their advertising budgets on websites hosted outside Russia, to get round the ban.

But Dmitry Yanin, head of the International Confederation of Consumer Societies, defended the ban as a tough but necessary measure.

"I hope it'll have an impact, because the level of consumption of strong alcohol is abnormally high [in Russia]", he said.

Russian alcohol consumption is already double the critical level set by the World Health Organization.

Although vodka has long been the traditional tipple in Russia, beer has soared in popularity. That prompted the authorities last year to put beer in the same category as other alcoholic drinks.

Shops and kiosks can still advertise alcohol under the new rules.

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