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MOSCOW, June 21 (Itar-Tass) —— The State Duma debated and approved a draft law that bans alcohol advertisements on the Internet and increases penalties for selling alcohol to minors.
“We will consider two daft laws this week, both aim to fight alcoholism, primarily among children,” the head of the United Russia faction in the lower house of parliament, Andrei Vorobyov, said. “The first one bans alcohol advertisements on the Internet, and the other one introduces amendments [to the Code of Administrative Offences] that increase penalties for selling alcohol to minors,” he said.
“This is our principled political position and we are going to push it through,” Vorobyov said.
The former of the draft laws amends the Advertising Law and bans alcohol advertisements on Internet sites registered as mass media.
The latter draft law amends the Code of Administrative Offences and increases penalties for selling alcohol to minors ten times. If adopted, the maximum fine may be raised to 50,000 roubles for individuals, 200,000 for officials and up to 500,000 for legal entities.
Under current legislation, the fines are 3,000-5,000 roubles for individuals, 10,000-20,000 for officials, and 80,000-100,000 roubles for legal entities.
Alcohol advertising is now banned on the first and last pages of printed media, on television, radio and billboards, on all types of transport, in children’s, educational, medical and other such institutions and facilities, as well as nearer than 100 metres from them. From July 23, 2012, alcohol advertisements will also be forbidden art airports, railway and bus stations, except for retail trade places that sell alcohol.
After regulations allowing beverages containing 5 percent of ethyl alcohol and more to be advertised on the Internet have entered into force from July 23, 2012, the draft law will effectively forbid advertising of beverages containing less than 5 percent of ethyl alcohol on web-based mass media. However, the relevant Duma committee plans to exclude the provision that allows advertising of strong alcoholic beverages on the Internet before the draft law goes for the second reading. This will be tantamount to a complete ban on alcohol advertising on the Internet.
According to the Ministry of Health and Social Development, there are more than 28 million alcoholics in Russia. Of 10 million children at the age of 11-18, more than 50 percent use alcohol and beer regularly. Two of three Russian children at the age of 13-16 drink alcohol. The minsitry says that Russians begin to drink beer on a regular basis from the age of 12, wine from the age of 15 and vodka from the age of 16.
The latest public opinion polls indicate that alcoholic cocktails are the most often purchased drink among teenagers from the age of 13 to the age of 17.The average age of people who drink heavily, mainly beer, has declined from 14 to 11 over the past ten years.
The level of alcohol abuse in Russia is among the highest in the world. Russia holds the lead in terms of alcohol consumption with 18 litres per person a year.