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Today in Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a bill that officially classifies beer as an alcoholic beverage. Until now any drink containing less than 10% alcohol in Russia has been considered food. This will allow the authorities to control the sale of beer in the same way that spirits are controlled.
Although vodka has long been the traditional alcoholic beverage of choice in Russia, beer has soared in popularity, being marketed as a healthier alternative to spirits. Russian alcohol consumption is already twice the critical level set by the World Health Organization. Over the past decade, beer sales in Russia have risen more than 40% while vodka sales have fallen by nearly 30%.
Reporters for the BBC say it is common to see people swigging beer in the street and in parks as if they are drinking soft drinks.
Last year the Russian beer industry was hit by a 200% tax hike on its products as ministers sought to bring consumption under control
Holte Ender thinks that if beer was classified as food in Russia, it explains a lot.