Russia's Government plans to halve alcohol consumption in the country by 2020, according to a report.

Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin has approved a campaign to cut alcohol consumption by 55% by 2020, according to a Reuters report today (15 January), citing a strategy document published by the Government.

Putin, who was president of Russia until 2008, has previously described the country's drinking habit as a "scourge".

Last year, he and current president Dmitry Medvedev said they were against sales bans on alcohol.

But, the Government has already begun steps to reduce consumption. It has tripled excise tax on beer and set a minimum price on vodka of RUB89 ($3) per 0.5 litres , effective from 1 January 2010.

Up to 600,000 Russians die from alcohol-related causes every year, according to an article published in The Lancet medical journal on 27 June last year. It named vodka as the main culprit.