Kiosk Owners Want Putin to Halt Tobacco and Beer Bans

The Coalition of Kiosk Owners said on October 3 that it would send a 165,000-signature request to President Vladimir Putin this week to stop expected bans on sales of cigarettes and beer.

Russian Cigarette Store

Cigarette kiosk in Russia

A law passed in 2011 prohibits kiosks from selling beer as of January 1. The Health and Social Development Ministry is now intending to prohibit retail stores with a floor area of less than 50 square meters from marketing tobacco products.

The Coalition of Kiosk Owners, created in April to struggle the legislation, states that such actions would shutter small businesses and not really reduce drinking or smoking.

Coalition leader Vladen Maximov said on October 3 that surely it is necessary to eliminate smoking. But this law would hurt small business owners without having any influence on smoking people.

Maximov added that due to the law there are no kiosks in St. Petersburg and statistics demonstrate no noticeable impact on rates of smoking.

Tobacco products can represent around 70% of sales from kiosks in some regions, Maximov said. The coalition thinks that a cigarette sales ban would push smokers to supermarkets and remove kiosks.

The Economic Development Ministry has determined that 300,000 to 500,000 kiosk workers could lose their jobs if the expected bans become operational.

The coalition calculates that firings could be closer to 1 million, including support positions like security guards and delivery drivers.

Maximov complained that officials “simply do not realize” the problem.

He said that officials consider people can just change and start selling different products, for example sausages or whatever. They just don’t realize the realities of how this business works.

The coalition’s written appeal states that kiosks are a crucial moving stone for many business owners to enter the business world and that such bans would have little if any impact on rates of smoking or drinking.

Maximov underlined the experience of European countries that have taken an opposite way. In France, only small tobacco  shops are permitted to sell tobacco products. In Britain, a lately released ban on displaying tobacco products will not relate to smaller shops until 2015.

Maximov said that officials simply “do not realize” the effect of the modifications, but some kiosk owners have said the measure is a planned intention to clear their huge white-plastic boxes from Russia’s streets for good.

The World Health Organization reports that 39% of Russian adults are regular smokers. Yearly, 350,000 to 400,000 people die of tobacco-related diseases in the nation.

The World Health Organization has accepted the health ministry’s anti-tobacco law and cautioned that tobacco companies would do all they could to dilute the actions.


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