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Russian lawmakers wage war on smoking
January 11, 2013, 5:03 pm

Two women smoke at a downtown street in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. [AP]

Two women smoke at a downtown street in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok. [AP]

In addition to the ban on smoking in public places in Russia it is been suggested that smoking rooms at work places should be prohibited and scenes involving smoking on television and in movies should be banned.

The State Duma passed the anti-smoking bill in the first reading in December 2012.

The bill envisages a gradual ban on smoking.

An increase in the price of tobacco and a ban to sell cigarettes at counters are among the measures proposed to reduce the smoking population in Russia.

Russian smokers have already experienced an increase in the price of cigarettes – the low price of tobacco is believed to be one of the main reasons smoking is popular in Russia.

A pack of premium brand cigarettes costs around $2, while in the developed world it averages at $10.

“I would have to consider quitting, as if the price of a pack equals those in UK for example, I would prefer to invest into something different,” – says Yury, a smoker of 20 years.

Russia’s chief medical officer, Gennady Onishchenko says, “This is the way all the civilized countries do that: if you want to smoke – go outside.

“Winter, summer – it doesn’t matter. You cannot smoke inside the building.”

As with every bill the anti-smoking legislation has its supporters and opponents.

But the general consensus is that the less possibility there is to smoke, the fewer people will actually do so.

At the moment around 40 per cent of Russia’s adult population smoke.

“It is not just about the price of tobacco, but also about social acceptance. In Russia it is socially acceptable to smoke, while in Brazil for instance the price of cigarettes is not that high, but it is not fashionable to smoke. So very few do, and those who smoke get condemnatory looks,” – comments Elena, who has been smoking for 20 years.

In recent years Russia has started campaigns to make alcohol and tobacco appear unpopular.

Numerous billboards with social advertisements flooded the country in an attempt to at least prevent teenagers from starting to smoke.

Daria Chernyshova

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