Russia Cracks Down on Smoking, Drinking
Published: October 23, 2013 (Issue # 1783)
The St. Petersburg government has passed legislation banning the sale of alcohol between the hours of 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. The law passed its third and final reading on Wednesday, Oct.16.
The federal law that regulates the sale of alcohol was introduced in July 2012. At the time, the sale of alcohol was restricted between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Now, St. Petersburg Governor Georgy Poltavchenko has proposed legislation aimed at increasing the prohibition. 32 out of 50 deputies agreed with the governor’s measures.
The law was first proposed in May 2013. After a first successful reading, a second reading brought in some changes, shortening the hours when alcohol would be unavailable for sale from 11 p.m. to 9 a.m. During the bill’s third reading, however, a decision was made to maintain the initial timeframe and restrict the sale of alcohol between 10 p.m. until 11 a.m. After the final reading, the legislation was sent for the governor’s signature.
In addition to the restricted hours of sale, drinks containing alcohol will no longer be sold at street markets, railway stations, near schools and hospitals or in other places where crowds of people gather. Restaurants, bars and clubs are exempt from the new legislation, which also exempts the sale of beer from the new law.
Some deputies, however, do not believe the new restrictions will help in the fight against alcoholism. Moreover, some customers in local shops when told of the new rules expressed the opinion that “the ban on alcohol could make the situation even worse as it will lead to the illegal sale of alcohol.”
Internet forums are full of advice about where to get alcohol in case when the drinks run out but the party continues. Websites selling overpriced shot glasses available for delivery 24 hours a day offer alcohol as a bonus for the purchase. Officially, no laws are being broken since only the sale of alcohol is prohibited, while offering it as a gift is allowed. In addition, any organizations tasked with overseeing the alcohol industry do not take into account Internet shops.
Among other opinions expressed by deputies was the idea that it is the middle-class that suffers most of all from the restrictions – those who work the whole day and can only go to the shop once the working day is over.
“I don’t think that we will destroy alcoholism in this way,” said Maxim, a customer in a local supermarket speaking to The St. Petersburg Times. “It just causes more difficulties for ordinary people. If it turns out that I forgot to buy a bottle of wine beforehand, during the day, or just didn’t have the opportunity, I will not be able to buy something to drink when I go to visit my friends or relatives,”
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