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E-Malt.com News article: 3562

Russia: A revised bill banning the consumption of beer in all public places passed the State Duma in a third and final reading. The State Duma’s Committee for Economic Policy, Entrepreneurship and Tourism penned a set of amendments to an earlier bill, Russian news agencies reported on October 29. The revised bill, which will come into effect on January 1, will enact restrictions on the sale of beer starting on that date. It will ban the sale of beer to minors, and in locations near kindergartens and schools, according to The Moscow Times.

Another provision in the bill, which comes into force on April 1, 2005, will make it illegal to drink beer on the street, in stadiums, in squares, parks, on public transport and other public places. The bill still has to pass the Federation Council, or the upper house.

A bill banning beer commercials between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. came into effect earlier in September, and the number of ads has already fallen by three-quarters. A ban on the use of people and animals in beer ads will come into effect next year.

Industry players warn that the ambiguously phrased restrictions would effectively end brewers’ sponsorship of sporting events. Russia’s biggest brewer Baltika has already withdrawn its sponsorship of the country’s Champions League soccer, which is reported to have been to the tune of $2 million per year.

Public beer drinking in Russia is widespread. The country’s vodka habit means many don’t consider beer an alcoholic drink and Muscovites can often be seen with a bottle on their way to work in the morning. The distinct lack of affordable restaurants and bars means the trend could be hard to shift.

“It is impossible to instill a culture of indoor beer drinking in the population until the average restaurant bill falls from four percent of a Russian’s average wage to one percent at the most,” the Vedomosti business daily quoted Irina Kibina, vice president of No. 2 brewer SUN Interbrew, as saying.

30 October, 2004

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