Uzbekistan: New Law Forbids Alcohol Consumption in Streets and Parks

As reported [ru] by on 5 October, 2011, the president of Uzbekistan approved a law regarding “the distribution and consumption of alcohol and tobacco products” which will come into force in April 2012.

The law states that the consumption of alcohol in streets, parks and other public places is banned. This regards any product for consumption which contains more than 1.5% of alcohol and means that it could be possible that even beer will have to be consumed either at home or in cafés and bars. At the same time, an interesting question is whether establishments will observe the ban on smoking in public places  or adapt them into special  alternatives for the consumption of tobacco products?

Furthermore, the law refers to the marketing of tobacco and alcohol products; medical warnings in the form of text or drawings must be visible on at least 40% of the main surface of the label which,  according to current law, is only required at 5%.

Photo from the website

Photo from the website

It's also worth noting that a full ban on the sale of tobacco and alcohol products is being introduced for those under the age of 20. The reason for this age is not clear  given that, according to Uzbek law, the age of majority and full legal capacity for citizens is 18 years.

Up to the present day a phenomenon has existed in Uzebekistan whereby cigarettes are sold as individual units. On the whole they are sold by babushkas (older women) who sit on stools in the streets and sell bits and bobs from similar stools – chewing gum, seeds and single cigarettes. Their main customers are school pupils and other students who sneak out to smoke cigarettes during break time.  The lawmakers didn't forget about them – now it is forbidden to sell tobacco products without a packet, or in other words, as individual units.

Advertising alcohol and tobacco products and promoting their consumption is also prohibited. By way of example, in the current version of the law “On advertising”, advertising of the former and the latter is allowed, except in the case of strong alcohol which cannot be advertised during the daytime.

On the whole internet users have reacted to the new law with approval.  For example, i-power comments [ru]:

Вот и еще один шаг вперед. Хоть маленькими шагами, но двигаемся вперед. Прогресс есть, отрицать не надо. Спасибо за это правительству.

This is yet another step forward. Although they are little steps, we are moving forward and this progress shouldn't be denied. Thanks to the government for this.

Кыргызстанец (Kyrgyzstanets) agrees [ru]:

Очень хороший и полезный закон…хотя я сам из представителей курящих но рад всегда такому закону…

This is a very good, beneficial law…although I myself am a smoker but I am happy about this law…

Svet suggests [ru], that during the passing of this law on the restriction of the distribution of alcohol and tobacco products, the government was guided first and foremost by their own interests, not concern for the health of their citizens:

1) это получит одобрения народа, чего ему [государству] так не хватает. 2) Народ по трезвянье не начнет бастовать, потому что смелости не хватит.

1) This will gain the people's approval which it (the government) is lacking. 2) The citizens will not start striking about this sobering up because they lack the courage.

However, not everyone is optimistic. Several users are convinced that the law will remain on paper not just because many laws in Uzbekistan are not observed but also because the producers will look for other ways of getting around the law. Octopus writes [ru] on this topic:

Насколько я знаю, в Узбекистане много замечательных законов,начиная с Конституции и заканчивая запрещающими детский труд, а также о свободе СМИ, запрете цензуры и прочие. (…) И что, все они рьяно соблюдаются и выполняются? Почему вы думаете, что именно этот будет соблюдаться от А до Я? Готовы владельцы (ликёро-водочных заводов, пивоваренных компаний и УзБАТ) к ограничению реализации их продукции?

As far as I know, in Uzbekistan, there are many noteworthy laws, beginning from the constitution and ending with the outlawing of child labour as well as, amongst others, those concerning freedom of the mass media, and prohibiting of censorship (…) And so, are all of these vigorously observed and put into practice?! Why do you think that this particular one will be applied to the letter. Are the owners of the liquor and spirit factories ready for restrictions on the making of their products.

It should be noted that tobacco products in the Uzebek market are made by the company УзБАТ (UzBAT) – a division of British American Tobacco. In 2010 the profit of the company grew by almost 50% compared to 2009.

It will be interesting to see how the passing of the law will affect the sale of  naswar (a type of dipping tobacco), which is also related to tobacco products. However, it's sold in a simple cellophane packet and prepackaged into small portions, often by hand. Will the producers of naswar now write about it being harmful to their health? Soon this question will remain open.

Музаффар (Muzaffar) encourages [ru] citizens to take part in social enforcement of the law, in the hope that the law will begin to be applied with the help of such means:

Лично я думаю о детях и подростках. Теперь я спокойно смогу сдать ментам продавцов, отпускающих подросткам пиво, и опушек [женщин –  GV], торгующих штучными сигаретами. Раньше с продавцами ругался, но поделать ничего не мог. Законодательной базы не было.

Personally I'm thinking about children and teenagers. Now, I will be able to peacefully report salespeople who sell beer to teenagers and women who sell individual cigarettes. Earlier, I cursed the salespeople but couldn't do anything. There was no legal basis.


  • Sasa Milosevic

    It is smart act.

    Unfortunately, this part of the world ( including Eastern Europe and especially Russia) practices alcohol more than watere.

    So many young people are drunk to the extent they cause very serious problem on the street and public life.

    New law in Serbia also limited daily time for buying the alcohol. After 10 p.m it is impossible not only for young people, but also for adults.

    I think that such type of laws should be more rigorous. I am sure that such decision has no any political background. Simply it is real need…

  • Justin

    Strange! Clearly Gulnara owns no shares in Uzbat.
    More importantly when is the spitting of odious chewing tobacco onto the streets going to be forbidden?

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