Russia restricts sales of beer - report

MOSCOW Tue Jan 1, 2013 10:21am EST

MOSCOW Jan 1 (Reuters) - Russia is restricting sales of beer from Jan. 1 in an attempt to curb alcoholism, Interfax news agency reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said alcoholism is a serious problem in Russia. It has one of the world's highest alcohol consumption rates according to the World Health Organisation. A 2011 WHO study said every fifth death among Russian men and six percent of deaths among women are attributable to alcohol abuse.

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed amendments to alcohol laws in July 2011 to reclassify beer as liquor. The new law, which came into effect on Tuesday, restricts the amount of beer stalls and kiosks can sell and bans sales between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m, Interfax reported.

Beer companies operating in Russia include Danish brewer Carlsberg and Anheuser-Busch InBev.

The big brewers are relying on emerging market growth and price rises to offset tough conditions in mature European markets. However, initial success in Russia has come up against a series of profit-sapping government measures in recent years.

In 2012 Russian taxes on beer rose by 20 percent and, according to a Finance Ministry plan approved in 2011, will rise by a further 25 percent in 2013 and 20 percent in 2014.

Russia has also raised the minimum price for vodka and banned drinks advertising in the media, including on the Internet.

(Reporting By Megan Davies; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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