Impact of a New Alcohol Policy on Homemade Alcohol Consumption and Sales in Russia
Aims: To describe the effects of Russian policy since 2006 affecting price and availability on the consumption of recorded and unrecorded alcohol, with specific reference to homemade alcohol, and to investigate other factors affecting homemade alcohol consumption and purchasing. Methods: Consumption and preferred beverage data were collected from RLMS-HSE nationwide panel surveys from 1994 to 2013, with a detailed analysis of 2012 data (18,221 respondents aged 16+ years). Official statistics on manufactured alcohol sales, regional price increase and real disposable income were used. Results: Homemade distilled spirits (samogon) consumption decreased together with that of recorded and unrecorded manufactured spirits since 2000. The consumption of spirits was partially replaced by the consumption of beer and wine. These trends in alcohol consumption were interrupted in 2008–2013. The interruption was more likely affected by the economic crisis and recession than by the new alcohol policy. Social networks and availability of unrecorded alcohol were more important predictors of homemade alcohol consumption and purchasing than was a recorded alcohol price increase. Conclusions: Homemade alcohol consumption does not replace the declining market for recorded spirits in Russia. The effects of economic and social factors on homemade alcohol consumption are greater than are the short-term effects of the new alcohol policy. The very recent (2015) reduction of the minimum unit price of vodka may be premature.