Aug. 21 - Russia has banned outdoor ads and TV commercials for alcohol, with a further ban covering print ads from January, in an attempt to curb alcohol consumption. Ivor Bennett reports.
Russia may be the home of vodka but its advertising industry is having to sober up. A new law banning alcohol adverts from print and online media comes into force next year. It's an attempt by the Russian Government to curb excessive drinking. Mike Gibson from Ark Connect advertising agency thinks his sector will adapt but the print industry could suffer. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ARK CONNECT CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER MIKE GIBSON, SAYING: "Often there is, to any new law, there's a highly emotional reaction to it, and like everything, it seems like it's not possible anymore, but if you actually, you know, take a deeper look, there's still a lot possible, and for some people it will actually be good for them. But if you're a magazine, I think it won't be so good for you, because you'll lose all of your alcohol print ads." In-store advertising IS still allowed. But TV and radio commercials were stopped last month along with outdoor billboards. Consumer group head Dmitry Yanin says it's a step in the right direction. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) HEAD OF INTERNATIONAL CONFEDERATION OF CONSUMER SOCIETIES, DMITRY YANIN, SAYING: "If the new generation does not see the image of success in beer and vodka, if they see it in some other things, and if hard liquor costs more, then we will stop being the country with the biggest drinking problem in the world." Russia currently drinks DOUBLE the critical amount according to the World Health Organisation. And one-in-five men die from alcohol related causes. Not everyone's convinced the new measures will have an effect. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MOSCOW RESIDENT ALEXANDER, SAYING: "Russian people will drink the way they always have. Nothing's going to happen." (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) MOSCOW RESIDENT VYACHESLAV, SAYING: "No, drinking less is not going to happen, people are going to drink more. They'll just start making home-brew instead." Annual price hikes are also part of the Government's battle with booze. The minimum spend for a bottle of vodka is now over 4 dollars. Ivor Bennett, Reuters