Medvedev's unorthodox strategy to fight alcoholism
To tackle Russia’s long-standing alcoholism problem, which claims thousands of live each year, Gorbatchev sent the army to uproot the country’s vineyards. The move’s only effective result was to boost production of home-made - and deadly - spirits. Since then more has been tried, from raising taxes to closing shops early to categorizing beer as a soft drink.
But now Medvedev is innovating with a new policy. The president’s new tack to moderate Russia’s penchant for booze is… to replant vines. And support the wine industry with public money. His rationale: since Russian’s drinking volumes are hard to curb, maybe inducing them to enjoy weaker, finer beverages is the way forward.
There is hope. Even though mass production methods and dubious additives are used to produce most of Russia’scrus, a fertile ground for quality wines is being revived near the Black Sea. And the average consumption, at 7 times less than France’s 50L, leaves much room for progress.
We can only raise a glass to such an innovative, market-driven health and safety policy. Competition is fierce, however, and it will take some time before domestically produced clarets can rival with established, imported brands. And, some say, it does not really address… the root of the problem.