Goodbye, Tobacco!

The Russian government has adopted an anti-smoking program that bans smoking in public places. Also, it was stated that any tobacco advertising could be completely prohibited in the country by 2012. But will these new regulations work in Russia, where almost one in three people smoke?

Russian miners smoking

In Russia there are 43.9 million smokers, according to the official statistics. This means that about half of the adults are addicted to tobacco. For example in some regions, the number of smokers constituted 80% of men and 47% of women. The most alarming thing is that smoking rates among women and young people have increased three times over the past five years.

There is a tenacious correlation between smoking related diseases and the demographic crisis in Russia. More than 500,000 people die of smoking related illnesses annually. But those who don’t smoke are not protected from the negative side-effects of smoking. More than 80% of Russians are exposed to second-hand smoke on a daily basis, according to data presented by the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

In 2008 Russia ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control that was signed by more than 100 countries since 2003. The given convention required health warnings be printed on cigarette packages, covering at least 30% of the package’s surface. But these actions didn’t produce any effect, smokers remained indifferent. Russia still has the cheapest tobacco products in the world, around 40 rubles ($1.3) per package. So, this makes smoking moderate for everyone. Smoking is permitted in the majority of bars, restaurants, railway stations, airports and offices.

The new governmental anti-smoking program is aimed at reducing the number of smokers in Russia to just a quarter of the population. Smoking in public places is supposed to be prohibited in Moscow 2012 and in the rest of Russia by 2015. About 82% of Russians support the idea of banning smoking in public places.

“The main reason why smoking is so popular in Russia, are fist of all, the economic one. Many people are unable to occupy themselves with something. For example teenagers smoke due to psychological pressure they face at home and in school. Adults smoke due to problems in living conditions and bad financial situation,” stated, Alexander Vasiliev, the head of the FreeofSmoking.narod.ru Internet portal.

The new anti-smoking program may have positive effects. Prohibiting smoking in public places could help the most concerned smokers to kick their bad habit. There is a need for more public advertisement, shops that sell cigarettes should be closed and the price of tobacco cigarettes increased significantly. Also the health warnings on cigarette packages should be accompanied with ghastly images of the consequences of smoking.

The number of smokers will drop significantly if people will have the chance to improve their lives.

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