Europe needs swagger

Russia to go dry? Officials mulling city booze ban


There are nasty rumors in Russia that the government is contemplating the introduction of a booze ban in the country's two main cities.

According to the Moscow Times newspaper, some Russian officials are considering banning the sale of alcohol once a week in the country's two main cities, Moscow and St Petersburg – in a bid to stem a destructive drinking culture and Russia's high mortality rate.

Although the initiative is only in its infancy, both the head of the national consumer protection agency and a top member of the Public Chamber, a Kremlin advisory body, on Wednesday latched onto the idea amid media reports that the Moscow and St. Petersburg city governments were taking the prospect seriously.

Customers browse in the beers, wines and spirits aisles in a supermarket in Moscow
Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The officials are risking the wrath of a nation, however, with Russians known worldwide for their love of vodka. Although to be fair, wine and beer have become the tipple of choice for many modern Russians.

Read More Russia cuts vodka prices on moonshine fears

Drinking to excess is a big problem in Russia, however. The life expectancy for Russian males born in 2006 is just 61 years, according to a United Nations Development Program report. Last year The Lancet medical journal said 25 percent of Russian men die before they are 55, and most of those deaths are down to alcohol.

The latest proposal to restrict the sale of booze is not the first attempt to curb alcoholism in the country either.

The last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, famously failed at his attempt to tame alcoholism in the 1980s by imposing production limits and boosting prices, the Moscow Times reported.

By 2013, kiosk sales were banned, alcohol sales at grocery stores cut off between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. and consumption in public spaces forbidden. Now, there's talk of going a radical step further.

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- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow her on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld