Kazakhstan Expands Smoking Ban

Kazakhstan has expanded its smoking ban by banning the use of the shisha pipe in enclosed public areas such as bars, nightclubs and restaurants

The ban became effective on March 14, sparking an outcry among entrepreneurs warning of prevalent job losses.

Shisha Pipe

Shisha pipe gear

As outlined by the data of the Association of Shisha Pipe Industry Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan, revealed by Bnews.kz on April 1, up to 20,000 jobs stand to be lost since each of the 5,000 premises where the shisha is used employs three or four people to wash and light the pipes.

The tobacco pipes are extremely fashionable in bars and restaurants in Astana and Almaty. One pipe, which is shared by people out socializing, costs about $30-$50. Places breaching the new rules deal with fines of just over $1,100.

Shisha – also known hookah – pipes had been exempt from a smoking ban in public places launched in 2009. Implementation is patchy, with most places respecting the ban but some openly flouting it.

Based on a World Bank report released in 2010, 40 % of male adults in Kazakhstan are smokers – fewer than Russia’s 59 %, but almost double the 22 % smoking in Uzbekistan.

New polling data unveiled by Kazakhstan’s Health Ministry in March display that just over a quarter of Kazakhs of both sexes – 26.5 % – are smokers.

In accordance with study unveiled in 2011 by the American Cancer Society and World Lung Foundation, in Kazakhstan tobacco was the reason for over a third (34.7 percent) of male deaths and 11.9 % of female deaths in 2004.

On April 20 the government is estimated to present a bill tightening anti-smoking legislation. Cheap cigarettes are still available in Kazakhstan, despite the government in 2012 increasing the minimum retail price by 30 % to 90-100 tenge per pack (around 55-65 cents, depending on the filter length).

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