Newswise — Although counterfeit alcohol is a new phenomenon in most of the world, it has been a longstanding problem in Russia. In 2002, illegal commercial alcohol products totaled more than half of the alcohol retail turnover in that country. More recently, an economic recession has reactivated illicit markets in Russia. While the demand for lower-priced counterfeit alcohol is often linked to economic disadvantages, this research examined whether the problem is more complicated.

Researchers analyzed data – based on consumer self-reports – collected from the nationwide Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey from 2012 to 2014 to find predictors of risky behavior by consumers who purchased counterfeit alcohol knowingly or unknowingly. Counterfeit alcohol was defined as any beverage content that did not match the information provided on the labels, such as trademarks, data on producers, composition, ethanol concentration, etc.

Predictors of counterfeit-alcohol purchases differed for consumers who knowingly made them compared with those who did so unknowingly. Poverty significantly increased the knowing purchase of counterfeit alcohol, as did indifference to alcohol brands. Consumers with social networks that included drinkers of surrogate alcohol and producers of homemade alcohol were highly likely to drink counterfeit alcohol deliberately. Finally, problem drinking was significantly associated with a higher risk of drinking whether or not people knew the alcohol was counterfeit.

Journal Link: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research