Sure, we whinge about the nanny state every time the chancellor whacks up duty on nice things to drink and smoke but at least our self-appointed guardians seem to care.

By contrast, our Russian comrades have been getting the kind of 'tough love' Joseph Stalin might have approved of, with finance minister Alexei Kudrin urging his countrymen to drink and smoke as much as possible to revive the ailing economy.

"If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems," he wheezed between lungfuls of Putin's Choice. "People should understand that those who drink and smoke are doing more to help the state."

That rousing appeal to the Soviet spirit might come as news to health workers in the country, where the average adult already downs 18 litres of pure alcohol a year. And only a few years ago Boris Yeltsin got so drunk on a state visit to the US he was found in his underpants trying to hail a taxi in the middle of the night so he could buy pizza.

It's a far cry from David 'Pimm's o'clock' Cameron and his constant bashing of the British drinks trade. Come on Dave, get stuck in to a few Stellas!