Russians advised to celebrate dry New Year holiday
Russia's chief sanitary doctor advised the country's partying masses on Sunday to stay away from alcohol during the government-mandated 10-day New Year's holiday break.
"One has to always remember that good holiday spirits can be achieved through more ways than with artificial stimulation that relies on a chemical compound known as ethanol," Interfax quoted Gennady Onishchenko as saying.
"Gluttony and alcohol consumption are a fairly serious problem during the New Year holiday season," Onishchenko added.
"One has to remember that ethanol is not the type of friend you want to celebrate the New Year with."
Federal law mandates that offices close throughout Russia between New Year's Day and January 10 as the country celebrates its most festive holiday and then Orthodox Christmas on January 7.
One analyst at Finam Management recently estimated that the shutdown costs Russia between half and one percent of its gross domestic product.
But Onishchenko said that alcohol was the real problem during the extended winter break.
"We call on people ... to look after their health and go outside to breathe the fresh air more," the head of Russia's consumer rights protection and health control agency said. "People should do more sports."
Onishchenko said that up to 80,000 people die in Russia every year from alcohol-related illnesses.
He also reported that Russia had 2.2 million registered alcoholics and 500,000 "heavy drinkers".
© 2011 AFP