Availability restrictions and alcohol consumption: A case of restricted hours of alcohol sales in Russian regions
Russia has consistently been among those countries with a high level of alcohol intake and, according to the WHO, the most dangerous model of consumption. Recently, the government turned to more radical instruments of anti-alcohol policy. In 2010, 72 of 83 Russian regions had adopted a ban on all alcoholic beverages, except beer, during various night hours, although 11 regions had not. Using this case as a natural experiment we aim to determine how these new temporal restrictions influence alcohol consumption. We use official statistical data on regional alcohol sales provided by Rosstat and micro-data from the RLMS-HSE survey. Two methods are combined: descriptive analysis of per capita alcohol sales at the regional level and regression analysis of pure spirit consumption at the individual level, controlling for various socioeconomic factors, including sales bans.
We revealed a significant positive correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and the number of hours of allowed alcohol sales when other factors were controlled. The results gained from analyzing the micro-data were confirmed using the regional sales information. In terms of drinking reduction, sales restrictions in the evening hours seem more efficient than restrictions in the morning hours. Temporal sales bans do not increase beer or home-distilled alcohol consumption. Temporal bans on alcohol sales in Russian regions have the potential to reduce consumption levels. These findings indicate a need for a further reduction in sales hours in the regions where heavy drinking is especially widespread.