Bizarre & Creative Soviet Anti-Alcohol Posters, 1930-1988
“Little by little, and you end up with a hooligan. Tolerance of drinking is dangerous. There is but a step from drinking to crime.” 1986.
Soviet communist officials firmly believed that heavy drinking and alcohol abuse were historical products of bourgeois-capitalist institutions and as such should ultimately disappear in a ”classless” and “conflict-free” socialist society. However, the alcohol issue was never very high on the government agenda.
“Underpass — to the ‘next world.” 1988.
Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1985 anti-alcohol campaign began with cuts in the production and sale of alcoholic beverages, combined with hefty price increases and a number of administrative penalties for alcohol abuse.
A public information campaign was also started where posters were placed in workplaces and public spaces depicting the dangers of alcohol and the benefits of not drinking it. These posters would go on to have a limited effect on the already heavily ingrained drinking culture of the Soviet citizens.
“We will overcome!” (Text on snake: “Alcoholism.”) 1985.
“Not among trees or grasses, the serpent has warmed up among us. Don’t suck on him, mammals, or you’ll turn into a reptile yourself.” 1972.
“Don’t drink your life away.” 1977.
“Either, or.” 1983.
“Drunkenness won’t be tolerated!” 1977.
“His inner world.” 1987.
“Rowdy partying ends with a bitter hangover.” (Tattoo text: “I love order.”) 1988.
“This is a shameful union — a slacker + vodka!” 1980.
A Soviet anti-alcohol poster from 1930. The text exhorts people to “smash” alcohol, describing it as “the enemy of the cultural revolution.”
A poster from 1929. A child changes the word “Spirit” into “Sport.” In 1929, the Soviet government ordered a massive closure of beer stalls and other places selling alcohol.
The text on this 1929 poster reads: “Shame on those getting paid at the black cash desk!” This desk was where people seen as having violated work discipline were paid. The poster links alcohol abuse with low productivity, a big concern during the first Five-Year Plan.
“Got drunk, cursed, broke a tree — it is shameful now to look people in the face.” During another anti-alcohol drive in 1958, sales of vodka were forbidden in many places.
“And they say that we are pigs…” Another poster from 1958.
A poster from 1959 warns that foreign spies are hunting for hard drinkers.
“Not a single drop!” The label on the bottle reads “Port wine.” The poster is from 1961.
“We will expel the drinkers from the workplace!” A poem by Vladimir Mayakovsky is referenced in this 1966 poster. The pipe is labeled “Defect,” the bottle “Vodka.”
In 1972, the message was simple: “Stop — before it’s too late.”
“It is time to stop collective partying!” The anti-alcohol campaign of 1972 coincided with plans to reduce the production of strong alcoholic drinks, while increasing output of nonalcoholic drinks, wine, and beer. By the end of the 1970s, alcohol consumption reached the highest level in the country’s history.
“And I’m not the one mother loves.” The label on the bottle says “Wine.” Another poster from 1982.
This 1985 poster has tomato juice delivering a knockout blow to a bottle of vodka. In 1985, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announced a large-scale anti-alcohol campaign with partial alcohol prohibition, also known as the “dry law.” Prices of alcohol went up and sales were severely restricted.
The poster shows a bottle tearing off a label for fortified white wine, replacing it with one for “natural juice.” The text says: “This new look suits me.”
“Socially dangerous”, 1985.
“Alcoholism” (compared with a snake).
“It also happens”.
“Remember, lad, accuracy is important!”.
“Rich inner content”.
“Alcohol is an active partner in crime”.
“Spare the unborn child!”.
“Do not be a prisoner of bad habits”.
“Huckster is the worst enemy”.
“Alcohol – the enemy of reason”.
“Much evil and wrongdoing to the family.” The text on the bottle says vodka. 1977.
“His palette is rather broad, from kerosene to varnishes. And no one has been able to figure out so far how to talk sense into such a… ‘connoisseur’!”