As Russian men and women gather to celebrate the New Year, a government-imposed increase on the price of vodka may dampen some holiday celebrations. On January 1st, 2010, the minimum price of vodka in Russia more than doubled to $3 for a half liter.
The price increase is a government attempt to curb citizens’ rampant abuse of alcohol, a problem President Dmitry Medvedev calls “a national disgrace.” According to The Lancet, a medical journal, alcohol abuse accounts for half of all deaths in Russia among people between the ages of 15 and 54.
Past government attempts to curb alcohol abuse have failed, and many critics claim that the price increase will only drive Russians to purchase more bootleg vodka. Experts already believe that approximately 50% of the total amount of vodka consumed by Russians comes from illegal distilleries. According to the BBC, such liquor is unregulated and contributes heavily to the country's 35,000 deaths a year from alcohol poisoning.