Russia is for the first time set to legally classify beer as an alcoholic drink, and the move comes as the Kremlin carries out its toughest anti-alcohol campaign.
Beer had technically been classified as a foodstuff, and the category it was put in allowed producers to avoid a sweeping new crackdown on alcohol advertising and nighttime sales.
AdvertisementBut now a Kremlin-backed bill that passed its first reading in the lower house of the Russian parliament on February 22 will abolish beer's special status, dragging Russian alcohol regulation into the 21st century.
"Normalising the beer production market and classifying it as alcohol is totally the right thing to do and will boost the health of our population," the Telegraph quoted Yevgeny Bryun, the ministry of health's chief specialist on alcohol and drug abuse, as saying.
"We have been talking about and have wanted such a measure for ages. I take my hat off to the parliament," Bryun said.
The new law would restrict beer sales at night, and ban its sale in or close to many public places such as schools, and limit cans and bottles to a maximum size of 0.33 litres.
Although vodka, the national tipple, remains extremely popular, Russia's beer consumption has more than tripled in the past 15 years, boosted by low prices, ready availability and lax regulation.
The Kremlin is concerned that alcoholism and under age drinking in particular have taken on epidemic proportions.