(Originally written January 2, 2013)
In an international news story that will surely have the Ontario government raising a toast of approval, Russia has banned the sale of beer at roadside kiosks, the post-Soviet equivalent to convenience stores. As The Associated Press reports, “new laws could deal a finishing blow to a symbol of the country’s lively and disorderly post-communist free market,” with alcohol sales reportedly accounting for up to 40 per cent of kiosk revenues. Now, in order to buy alcohol, Russians will actually have to go to a restaurant or a store “of at least 50 square meters.” No word as to whether the latter are run by a government-controlled monopoly, mind you.
And on a related note, Putin has announced that beer will no longer be considered food, officially classifying it as an alcoholic beverage. I guess it’s not for breakfast anymore; according to the AP, “it can’t be sold in any store from 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.” Of course, none of the LCBO stores in Toronto stay open until 11…
Putin, who can hardly be confused with Premier Dad (unless your father’s an ex-KGB, semi-supreme leader), apparently passed the policies to address an ongoing national health concern. As per the AP, “Heavy drinking and smoking are cited as two of the main factors in Russia’s high mortality rate — average life expectancy for males born in 2006 was 60-61, according to a UN Development Program report.” In response to the latter factor, he’s even considering banning cigarette sales from those same kiosks, a measure that would, according to Russia’s Ministry for Economic Development, force 175,000 kiosks to close at a cost of 500,000 jobs.
Hey, I’d like to think that the Ontario Liberals wouldn’t go that far, eh?