Russians Are Drinking Less Vodka

The world as we know it is coming to an end. An increasing number of Russians have moved away from drinking vodka and are now drinking wine, beer and — stay with me — any alcohol under 40 percent alcohol by volume.

Yes, Russia. The same country that considered beverages 10 percent alcohol by volume or less as non alcoholic until 2011.

“Sales of vodka dropped catastrophically,” Alexandra Burdyak, an author of the recent alcohol consumption study, tells United Press International. “The drop was 13.4 percent against the same period of last year. The main decline occurred last year, when sales of vodka decreased by 12.6 percent compared to 2014.”

For the first eight months of 2016, vodka, liqueur and brandy amounted to 42 percent of sales. So still a lot. But around 45 percent of sales were beer, and 12 percent went to wine. Another way to look at it is at vodka’s peak in 2007, vodka made up 53 percent of sales by alcohol content. In 2015, it was only 39 percent.

Vodka is a defining cultural product in Russia, just after photos of a shirtless, horseback riding Vladimir Putin. The only time in recent history that Russians weren’t drinking vodka was that time the country ran out of it because they drank it all.

There are a few explanations why vodka consumption has gone down in Russia. One is that Russia’s economy is sinking, so Russians are consuming less of everything. Vadim Drobiz, the director of the Center for Federal and Regional Alcohol Market Studies, tells UPI that people are shifting to cheaper forms of alcohol because of the crisis. Although he also says that Russians “consider strong alcohol to be an antidepressant,” so consumption won’t fall too far.

Another theory is that Russian businesses have just as much trouble understanding millennials as American businesses do. Younger Russians are downing drinks with less alcohol like Westerners do.

Finally, it might just be that the Russians are done dying from alcohol complications. A 2014 study in the journal Lancet found that 25 percent of Russian men die before they reach 55. Those deaths happen in large part because of alcohol — whether it’s liver disease, alcohol poisoning or doing dangerous activities when drunk.

Whatever the reason, the popularity of vodka is decreasing in Russia. Time to rewrite the history books.