Not a MyNAP member yet? Register for a free account to start saving and receiving special member only perks. The purpose of this chapter is to summarize and offer analytical comments on the availability and reliability of official government statistics on alcohol and related issues in the former Soviet Union and contemporary Russia. The collection, collation, dissemination, and analysis of statistics on alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse, and alcohol-related mortality and morbidity were long neglected in the Soviet Union.
Responsibility for alcolismo Russia sana and analyzing alcohol alcolismo Russia sana was divided among several state agencies that alcolismo Russia sana different definitions and classifications and, as a rule, did not share the data among themselves. Open publication of virtually all statistical data related to alcohol consumption, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism ceased in the early s, not to be resumed for almost 60 years. From time to time, some quantitative statements were made in alcolismo Russia sana medical sources, but these were based on small samples and were of little, if any, utility.
Recent inquiries in Moscow and elsewhere suggested that some alcohol statistics continued to be collected in classified documents, but many important data series that are routinely available in most countries in the world were simply discontinued in the early s. Publication of some selected statistics finally resumed 1 during the later stages of Gorbachev's perestroykabut generally alcolismo Russia sana, the availability, reliability, and usability of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian alcohol statistics remain poor.
For more than 60 years, excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and state profits derived from the alcohol alcolismo Russia sana wine industry and imports accounted for between 12 and 14 percent of all state revenues.
Therefore, Soviet policies alcolismo Russia sana respect to. First, it was firmly believed that heavy drinking and alcohol abuse were historical products of bourgeois-capitalist institutions and as such should ultimately disappear in a ''classless" and "conflict-free" socialist society.
The alcohol issue was thus never very high on the government agenda. What alcohol abuse remained in the new Soviet society was viewed as stemming from character flaws of the individual, absence of personal willpower, peer pressures, alien foreign influences, and the like, but was not believed to be related to systemic features of the society.
Contrary alcolismo Russia sana all evidence and disregarding cause-and-effect considerationsit was also assumed that alcohol abuse and heavy drinking were associated with low educational, "cultural," and income levels. Thus, projected progress in education at all levels and planned increases in alcolismo Russia sana income were optimistically expected to reduce drinking and to eradicate alcohol abuse. It was believed further that deviant behavior, social disruptions, economic and violent crime, and other consequences of heavy drinking alcolismo Russia sana alcohol abuse could be effectively contained by restrictive and penal measures, controlled by law enforcement agencies, and corrected by appropriate educational and popular propaganda programs.
The responsibility of medical institutions was confined to treatment of the worst clinical cases of alcoholism, alcohol-related cirrhosis of the liver, and alcohol psychoses. The need for involvement of medical, public health, educational, legal, and social organizations in prevention, counseling, and rehabilitation of heavy drinkers and alcoholics was never seriously considered by state and Communist Party authorities.
The socialist centrally planned state had a complete monopoly on the production, pricing, foreign trade, and distribution of alcohol. Setting higher-than-average excise tax rates 3 on alcolismo Russia sana beverages and thereby making them expensive relative to other consumer goods and to average wages was considered an optimal state policy because it would discourage drinking, while also providing the state treasury with much-needed and easily collectible revenues.
The high level alcolismo Russia sana ruble retail trade sales of alcoholic beverages which accounted for between 15 and 20 percent of total retail turnover was also viewed as alcolismo Russia sana important factor in helping central planners, industry, and consumer trade authorities balance the inadequate supply of consumer goods with people's income. It was conceded that high prices of state-produced alcoholic beverages would encourage illegal distillation of samogon 4 and home production of wine, but it was believed, contrary to all evidence, that law enforcement agencies would be able either to eliminate or to minimize home production.
The almost complete absence of information on the consumption of alcohol and on the health, social, and economic consequences of heavy drinking and. From time to time, the government would release brief and undocumented references to the fact that annual per capita consumption of alcohol in the Soviet Union alcolismo Russia sana between 2.
Such statements, of alcolismo Russia sana, reinforced this complacency. The next two sections focus, respectively, on statistics on alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse.
The fourth and fifth sections address two issues related to alcohol abuse: the impact of Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign and deaths from alcohol poisoning. These issues, which remain controversial, illustrate the problems involved in working with available Russian statistics.
Table shows a standard Russian tabulation of consumption of alcohol and alcoholic beverages per capita. Data of this type are available for some 75 regions of the country. The official statistical agency of the Soviet Union, Goskomstat SSSR, collected all alcohol consumption data in value terms current and constant alcolismo Russia sana and alcolismo Russia sana liters for different types of beverages e.
The central statistical agency of newly independent Russia, Goskomstat of Russia, continued the traditional Soviet method of data collection and publication of alcohol statistics. The available statistics on legal per capita alcohol consumption show that the highest level of drinking in Russia was reached in the early s, that is, just before the start of Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign. As the result of drastic cuts in state production and in sales of alcoholic beverages, along with hefty price increases, per capita consumption in the Soviet Union dropped to its lowest point, 3.
The momentum of the reform, however, could not be sustained for long because of losses of tax revenue and the unpopularity of the restrictive measures and reduced sales. Starting inthe state alcohol industry began to increase production. The most striking feature of these data is that while Russia was and is alcolismo Russia sana as a country with severe alcohol abuse problems, in the early s it ranked 33rd among 50 countries in terms of per capita consumption.
NOTES: Per capita alcohol consumption data were derived from sales of all state-produced alcoholic beverages, i. Home-distilled samogon and home-made wine are excluded.
Per capita consumption of fruit wine, cognac, and champagne is not shown separately. Consumption of all homemade alcoholic beverages, both legal and illegal, is excluded. In recent years, Soviet statisticians made some estimates of samogon production, but these estimates are rather rough and alcolismo Russia sana restricted to sugar-based samogon only. The estimates exclude samogon produced from other inputs, such as potatoes, grain, and fruits, as well as home-made wines and beers.
Table summarizes estimated statistics on samogon consumption in Russia. It must be stressed that the estimates shown in Tableas well as other estimates available in the Russian literature, should be viewed as first approximations only. Penalties for illegal home production and purchase of samogon have always been severe, and samogon producers have over time developed various techniques for escaping police attention.
Thus alcolismo Russia sana and quantification of. Historically, samogon was primarily a rural phenomenon: agricultural populations always had easier access to the produce needed for samogon production, while lower monetary alcolismo Russia sana reduced their demand for state-produced alcoholic beverages.
Large-scale rural-to-urban migration explains the decline in per capita samogon consumption during Gradually, however, home distillation of samogon spread to urban areas. Alcolismo Russia sana can be seen from the estimates, the share of samogon alcolismo Russia sana total alcohol consumption varied from less than 30 to over 60 percent of total consumption. It should be emphasized that in addition to state-produced alcoholic beverages, samogon, and home-made wine, consumption of alcohol in the Soviet Union and Russia has alcolismo Russia sana stolen ethanol, a variety of technical alcohols, and alcohol surrogates alcohol-based liquids such as aftershave lotions and colognes.
The long neglect of home distillation in studies of alcohol in the Soviet Union and the scant attention given the alcolismo Russia sana in contemporary Russia are therefore regrettable.
Among other developments, we should note that Gorbachev's government paid a high price alcolismo Russia sana the lack of understanding. Drastic cuts in production and alcolismo Russia sana, combined with two major increases in prices of alcoholic beverages in the phase of the anti-alcohol campaign, resulted in the rapid growth of samogon and uncontrolled drinking and an alarming diversion of sugar and other produce from human consumption to home distillation.
However, as can be alcolismo Russia sana in Tablethe reversal of the policy of reducing the production and consumption of state-produced alcoholic beverages in was not reflected in a comparable decrease in the consumption of alcolismo Russia sana. State alcohol prices, which remained high relative to prices of other goods and incomes, continued to alcolismo Russia sana samogon production very profitable.
The ethnic identity of drinkers cannot be established on the basis of available state statistics. To the best of the author's knowledge, neither state statisticians nor academic analysts have ever looked at ethnic differentials in per capita consumption of alcohol. These differentials are, however, significant and cannot be disregarded in any serious analysis of the alcohol situation in the country.
According to the author's rough estimates, people of the Muslim culture consume on a per capita basis slightly less than half of the alcohol consumed by Slavs and other ethnic groups in Russia. Gender differences in alcolismo Russia sana cannot be derived from the available alcohol consumption sales data. To the best of alcolismo Russia sana author's knowledge, Soviet and Russian statisticians and medical alcolismo Russia sana did not and do not have reliable estimates or time series on this subject.
It is generally believed that drinking among women began to increase rapidly in the s, but there are no supporting statistics alcolismo Russia sana this belief. Several studies undertaken by the author, as well as infrequent vague and undocumented references found in the Soviet and Russian literature, suggest that in the last 10 years or so, men have been drinking between 3. There are a number of miscellaneous shortcomings in available alcohol consumption data.
Among other unresearched topics and gaps in alcohol consumption statistics, we should note alcolismo Russia sana absence of any reliable age-distribution data for drinkers, as well as of series for frequency over time and quantity of drinking.
Age and gender breakdowns for most alcohol-related morbidity and mortality statistics are also absent. Per capita alcohol consumption data for Russia presented here even alcolismo Russia sana adjusted for Samoan consumption do not fully explain the alarmingly high cost of heavy drinking and alcohol abuse reflected in high rates of mortality and morbidity, low life expectancy, and social and economic disruption.
The high-risk groups are mainly adult male Slavs Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians. The explanation for the alcohol abuse includes not only the relatively high level of overall consumption of alcolismo Russia sana, but also the high share of alcohol consumed in the form of vodka and Samoan, as can be seen in Table Drinking vodka results in faster intoxication, more frequent violence, and more serious somatic effects, particularly accidents of different types and fatal alcohol poisonings as discussed belowthan does drinking wine or beer.
A second, equally important factor is the mode of drinking prevalent among Slavs, which characteristically consists of "drinking binges"—the intermittent consumption of large quantities of alcohol in a relatively short period of time and often without accompanying meals.
It should be noted that a small group of Russian alcohol specialists alcolismo Russia sana long suggested that total alcohol prohibition is fruitless and that the most promising policy would alcolismo Russia sana to educate the public in "civilized" drinking. This position was never popular in the Soviet Union, and its proponents were all but silenced during Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign.
It will be alcolismo Russia sana that the high share of vodka of 75 percent of total alcohol consumed had been reduced by government policy to the lowest point of 53 percent just before the start alcolismo Russia sana Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign. An unexpected and alarming result of the campaign was that alcolismo Russia sana share of vodka increased rapidly. In summary, we alcolismo Russia sana say that even in recent years, the availability, usability, and reliability of state statistics on alcohol consumption and related matters in Russia leave much to be desired.
Clearly, no coherent and effective public policy. This section supplements the discussion in the previous section by presenting selected official statistics on alcohol mortality, registration of alcoholics, and alcohol-related accidents; see Tables a and b, andrespectively. Alcolismo Russia sana limitations and the scope of alcolismo Russia sana paper prevent detailed comments on these statistics.
A few observations are, however, in order. Russian medical authorities are well aware of the fact that heavy drinking and alcohol abuse are significant contributors to a number of health problems, including cardiovascular and gastric ailments, tuberculosis, and a wide variety of accidents.
Soviet and Russian medical and statistical sources recognize only four causes alcolismo Russia sana death directly linked to alcohol, as summarized in Tables a and b. One notable feature of these tables is that the overall rate is dominated by deaths. NOTE: Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign was announced in April and began with cuts in the production and sale of alcoholic beverages; per capita consumption of alcohol, including samogon, was artificially boosted by 1 to 2 percent.
This phenomenon is discussed separately in the following section. There are difficulties in accurate diagnosis of alcoholism and alcohol psychoses and registration of alcoholics with medical authorities in all countries, and as with other alcohol-related statistics, the available data should be viewed as subject to significant error.
The Soviet and Russian statistics are particularly unreliable. The main reasons for this are a shortage of medical alcohol specialists and psychiatrists and insufficient numbers of and spaces in both general and specialized medical facilities. In fact, some facilities have been closed in recent years, reflecting the general crisis in Russian public health Oganov et al. Accordingly, the reduced numbers shown in the tabulated data do not reflect health improvements, but rather the deterioration of medical alcolismo Russia sana.
It should also be noted that the number of reported alcohol-related accidents and crimes depends on the availability alcolismo Russia sana deployment of police forces in the country and priorities accorded to control of alcohol disturbances by the public. The rapid growth of violent crime in Russia and the widely reported corruption of all law enforcement agencies suggest that the antisocial behavior of alcoholics and heavy drinkers is not very high on the government agenda, and available statistics should reflect this.
In 3 years, per capita consumption of state-produced alcoholic beverages was cut by a remarkably high 67 percent. Byfor all practical purposes, losses of budgetary tax revenues and the increasing unpopularity of the campaign forced the authorities to reverse these measures and start to increase the production and sale of alcohol. Many Western and Russian specialists, not alcolismo Russia sana, link the restrictive measures of the campaign and drastic cuts in per capita consumption of alcohol to reduced mortality, decreased incidence of crime, and other beneficial social and health effects.
Thus, according to the standard Alcolismo Russia sana statistical handbook for"The average number of deaths in and compared to had.