Russia's lower house of parliament supports ban on drinking beer in public

Russia's lower house of parliament gave preliminary backing to a ban on drinking beer in public, the latest in series of legislative measures aimed at regulating Russians' health and public behavior.

The bill passed by a vote of 377-0 in the first reading at the State Duma, which is dominated by the Kremlin-backed United Russia. The measure would prohibit beer drinking in streets, parks and public squares for both adults and minors. Only licensed restaurants and cafes would be allowed to serve beer and alcohol in open-air settings.

The bill, which must still go through two more readings, would impose fines of up to 300 rubles (US$12, EUR9) on violators.

Drinking vodka and other hard alcohol beverages in public is already banned in Russia, though the restriction is rarely enforced.

On Friday, the State Duma will take up a bill imposing new restrictions on smoking on planes, trains, boats and other public places.