The Most Fascinating Soviet Anti-Alcoholism Propaganda

Published May 29, 2013
Updated February 12, 2018

If you sip on Russian vodka at parties, you can thank Vladimir the Great. Legend has it that the primary reason that Vlad rejected Islam as the state religion was because Islam prohibited the consumption of all alcohol. To a point, that was a good decision on behalf of future Vlads: by 1860 vodka comprised nearly half of Russia’s state revenue.

The “party” could only last for so long and as Russia entered World War I and the Bolsheviks came to power, soviet anti-alcoholism propaganda ran rampantly in efforts to curb and prohibit subsequent alcohol consumption:

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 1
"What a shame! He got drunk, swore, smashed a tree and now he's ashamed to look people in the face."

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 2

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 3
"Get out the drunks out of the workplaces!"

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 4
"Don't drink, Dad!"

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 5
"Stop! It's the final warning!"

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 6
"Have mercy on your future child."

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 7
"Rich inner substance."

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 8
"Remember – When you drink, your family is hungry."

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 9
"For health?"

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 10
"Alcohol – Enemy Of Mind"

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 11
"And they say we are pigs..."

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 12
"Get out!"

Soviet Anti Alcohol Poster 13
"A friend of vodka is an enemy of the Trade Union."

Later on in the 20th century, Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev would become known for his great reform efforts, one of which included yet another anti-alcohol campaign. While in some ways Gorbachev's partial-prohibition had a positive effect on alcoholism itself (life expectancy increased while crime rates fell), his story offered outcomes not unlike other preceding (and unsuccessful) prohibition efforts: it largely devastated the economy and led to the increased prevalence of dangerous black markets. Opting out of the Pyrrhic victory that prohibition tends to provide, in 2010 President Dmitri Medvedev decided to double the minimum price of a bottle of vodka in order to confront the problem more efficiently and effectively.

Thanks to io9 for these images.

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Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.