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MOSCOW, June 20 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s State Duma has endorsed two bills aiming to curb the problem of alcohol abuse by underage citizens.
The bills severely tighten the financial penalties for selling alcoholic beverages to children and ban liquor ads in Internet news media.
For instance, amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses stipulate a considerable toughening of punishments “for the individuals, officials and legal entities for retail sales of alcohol-containing produce to underage citizens in cases such sales do not contain the constituent elements of criminal offenses.”
The revised financial penalties for selling alcoholic beverages to children and adolescents will vary from 30,000 rubles to 50,000 rubles for individuals, 100,000 rubles to 200,000 rubles for officials, and 300,000 rubles to 500,000 rubles for legal entities.
The current respective penalties stand between 3,000 to 5,000 rubles for individuals, 10,000 to 20,000 rubles for officials and 80,000 to 100,000 rubles for legal entities.
At the current exchange rate, U.S. $ 1 is equivalent of 32.5 Russian rubles.
The second bill the Duma endorsed at the same reading prohibits advertising alcoholic beverages at the Internet sites and networks registered as news media.
“The average ages of beginning alcohol consumers in Russia has slid from fourteen to eleven years old, and this means we have drinking children now, not even adolescents,” said MP Alexei Vorobyov, an initiator of the bills.
He called for a comprehensive approach to the resolution of the problem, saying: “We must devise a national plan for struggle with alcohol abuse.”
“The European Union has a plan of action against alcohol and Belarus has a national program with details for every region and every district,” Vorobyov said.
“I wouldn’t like to air an excessive pathos here but we really need a system of measures that will be introduced persistently and regularly,” he said.
MP Vyacheslav Timchenko, a member of the United Russia faction said on his part: “That’s just the first step towards a system and comprehensive overhaul of our anti-alcohol abuse legislation, the main objective of which is to protect the young generations of Russians from developing addiction to alcoholic beverages.
“We propose a number of measures, like a full ban on advertizing alcohol, including beer, in Internet mass media and a ban on selling liquors to the parents, who visit the places of public catering together with their children,” Timchenko said.
“Another measure is the raising of the official drinking age to 21 years old from 18 years old and development of social advertizing,” he said.