Alcohol Control Policies in Former Soviet Union Countries: A Narrative Review of Three Decades of Policy Changes and Their Apparent Effects
The last Soviet anti-alcohol campaign of 1985 resulted in considerably reduced alcohol consumption and saved thousands of lives. But once the campaign’s policies were abandoned and the Soviet alcohol monopoly broken up, a steep rise in mortality was observed in many of the newly formed successor countries, although some kept their monopolies. Almost 30 years after the campaign’s end, the region faces diverse challenges in relation to alcohol.
The present narrative review sheds light on recent alcohol use trends and alcohol policy developments in the 15 Former Soviet Union (FSU) countries, highlighting the most important setbacks, achievements and best practices. Vignettes of alcohol control policies in Belarus, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania and Uzbekistan are presented to illustrate the recent developments.
Over the past decade, alcohol use levels have declined in almost all FSU countries, paralleled by the introduction of various alcohol-control measures. The so-called three ‘best buys’ put forward by the World Health Organization to reduce alcohol-attributable burden (taxation and other measures to increase price, restrictions on alcohol availability and marketing) are relatively well implemented across the countries.
In recent years, evidence-based alcohol policies have been actively implemented as a response to the enormous alcohol-attributable burden in many of the countries, although there is big variance across and within different jurisdictions.
Strong declines in alcohol consumption were observed in the 15 FSU countries, which have introduced various alcohol control measures in recent years, resulting in a reduction of alcohol consumption in the World Health Organization European region overall.