Medvedev launches war on smoking
Russia will never be the same when the ban on smoking in public places and prohibit of cigarette advertising enters force by 2015.
The first battle in the war on Russia’s enormous smoking problem was won on Thursday when Prime Minister Dmitri Medveded got support for the new anti-smoking bill from all cabinet members.
The bill seeks to prohibit cigarette advertising and cut sales. Also, smoking in public areas will be prohibited including cafés, pubs and restaurants.
Speaking to his cabinet on Thursday Dmitri Medvedev pointed to Europe where many countries were facing the same smoking problems as Russia does today.
“Europe too, had a smoking problem 20-30 years ago. They were active smokers, not so today,” Medvedev said.
Smoke-free White House
Medvedev admitted that the law itself will not solve the problem. As an example he pointed to the fact that also the government’s own offices, the White House in Moscow, got a formal ban on smoking indoor some years ago. But people do still smoke here, the prime minister said.
“We need to assure that the laws banning smoking will be effectively implemented,” Medvedev said. The transcript from the cabinet meeting is posted on the portal of the government.
400,000 dies annually
Russian health officials estimate around 400,000 Russians dies each year to smoking-related illnesses. The country is said to be the second largest cigarette market in the world after China.
The war on smoking will not be easy to win. Second battle will be when the bill is to be debated and approved by the State Duma. First reading will be on November 1.
Cigarettes are cheap and on sale practically everywhere. A pack cost around one euro, but some domestic brands are even just half of that. In general, a package of cigarettes in Russia is only one tenth of the price in Norway. Or, one seventh of the price in Finland.
Forty percent of people are smokers, the majority men. Half of them smoke a 20-pack a day.