Russians more worried about alcoholism than human rights - poll

Shelves of Liquor Bottles Crossed by an X of Red and White TapeMOSCOW, November 15 (RIA Novosti) - Russians are most worried about high inflation and rampant alcoholism, not the state of democracy or national security, according to a recent opinion poll.

Inflation topped the list with 56%, followed narrowly by alcoholism (53%) in a poll carried out by Russia's leading opinion pollster, VTsIOM, among 1,600 respondents.

"Respondents also singled out unemployment (46%), corruption and red tape (44%) and living standards (43%) as Russia's most pressing problems," VTsIOM said.

Terrorism (26%) and environment (16%) are down at the bottom, with state of democracy, human rights and national security still lower at only 8%.

President Dmitry Medvedev waged a war on alcoholism, arguably Russia's number one problem, last summer. Excise on beer has since been increased, as has been the minimal price for a bottle of vodka.

A zero drink-drive limit is also in the pipeline.

In a more radical move, the sale of spirits between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. has been banned, but experts say it is of little use as alkashi, or alcoholics, will always find a legal or illegal loophole to indulge in imbibing.

In a country where more than 23,000 people die of alcohol abuse every year and where vodka accounts for 70% of alcohol consumption, more urgent measures are in order, experts say.

Moscow's legislature will discuss a bill to ban smoking in the city-owned buildings in two weeks, Moscow's healthcare commission chief Lyudmila Stebenkova said.

There are 43.9 million smokers in Russia, or 40% of the population. The addiction kills up to 500,000 people every year.


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