Russia Doubles Cost of Cheap Vodka to Combat Alcoholism

The Russian government has set a minimum price for vodka that more than doubles the cost of the cheapest vodka on the market in an effort to fight rampant alcoholism.

The measure also is aimed at reducing the extraordinary number of deaths caused by drinking in Russia.

The minimum price of 89 rubles ($3) for a half liter of vodka (17 ounces) went into effect Friday, the start of the 12-day New Year's and Orthodox Christmas holiday, when alcohol consumption is at its highest.

President Dmitry Medvedev has publicly decried Russia's drinking problem and its effect on the nation's well being.

A study published last year in The Lancet medical journal said drinking has caused more than half of deaths among Russians aged 15 to 54 since the 1991 Soviet collapse.