Russia is grappling with a major public health crisis in which residents are essentially drinking and smoking themselves to death, according to the country’s public health officials.
About a million Russians die each year from alcohol- and smoking-related causes -- between 600,000 and 700,000 of those deaths are attributed to drinking alone, Andrei Demin, of Russia’s Public Health Association, told Fox News.
“It’s threatening the future of the country,” he said.
The problem? Unlike other countries, Russia has refused to levy hefty taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to discourage drinking and smoking.
The resulting statistics are staggering:
— The average Russian drinks 50 bottles of vodka a year.
— A bottle of beer can be purchased on the street for less than the cost of a bottle of water.
— Twelve million of Russia’s 141 million residents have died over the past 15 years due to alcohol-and smoking-related causes.
— A pack of cigarettes can be purchased for about 30 cents.
— The average Russian male lives to be 60 years old, dying 15 years earlier than his American counterpart. Russian women die 13 years earlier than American women.
Although the country has launched a series of television commercials encouraging Russians to choose healthier lifestyles, many critics say this is of little benefit.
So far, Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused recommendations to raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, with some health critics saying the Kremlin would the Russian public stay “pacified and anesthetized."