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Russian Official Calls For Nighttime Alcohol Ban

Men drinking home made alcohol in Russia's Ivanovskaya region

Men drinking home made alcohol in Russia's Ivanovskaya region

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia's top public health official has called for a ban on retail sales of alcohol after 9 p.m. as part of a Kremlin-led campaign to crack down on alcohol abuse, state-run news agency RIA reported.

President Dmitry Medvedev last year ordered tough measures to curb alcohol abuse, saying he was shocked by official consumption data showing the average Russian drank 18 liters of pure alcohol each year.

Since then, Russia has tripled the excise duty on beer, introduced minimum prices for vodka and is considering drastic limits on where and when beer can be sold, such as banning sales at streetside kiosks.

Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia's consumer-protection watchdog and the country's top public-health official, said a proposed ban on alcohol sales after 11 p.m. did not go far enough.

"Why start when people are already asleep... We must ban it from 9 p.m.," he was quoted as saying in an interview with RIA.

He also said he supported copying a system in Finland where alcohol is sold only in specially licensed stores. Alcoholic drinks of all kinds are currently available in Russia 24 hours a day.

The report did not say whether the proposed time limit on sales would also apply to bars and restaurants.

Multinational corporations such as Carlsberg, SABMiller, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and others control more than 95 percent of domestic beer market, one of the world's largest.