The long-anticipated ban on smoking public places is coming closer, with the health ministry publishing plans to impose tough new laws by 2014.
The law prepared by the cabinet ministers proposes banning smoking in public places, including transport, airports and train stations in time for the Sochi Olympics.
The price of a packet of cigarettes is also due to go up in an attempt to dissuade people from taking up the habit.
Smoking will become illegal in hotels, cafes and nightclubs in 2015, and it will include a ban on hookah pipes, popular in the capital.
Prisons and pre-detention centres would also become smoke-free zones.
The law is the first step in acting on World Health Organisation’s fight against tobacco, which Russia joined in 2008.
A minimum retail price will be introduced, pushing costs up significantly, and will be indexed once a year according with inflation.
Cigarette manufacturers will also be banned from sponsoring events and “stimulating sales of tobacco products” and will have a duty to “protect the population’s health from the ramifications of tobacco use”.
“Any citizens and organizations can introduce their suggestions during the public debate, which will follow after the project is coordinated with state authorities,” the ministry said.
Restaurants will not suffer
Similar bans have been in place in many European countries, like the UK, France, Norway, Finland.
The association of restaurateurs is ready for the ban, co-chairman of anti-tobacco coalition Daria Khalturina told Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
Experience from around the world shows that not only their profits did not fall, but occasionally even rose, as people were willing to take children with them, and would sit longer in a room with clean air than with one filled with cigarette smoke.
Smoking world champion
According to a global survey of Russian adults (GATS), 60.2 per cent of men and 21.7 per cent of women in the country smoke, Interfax reported.
The 43.9 million Russian adults who smoke make up almost 40 per cent of the economically active population.
An average Russian smokes 17 cigarettes a day, and 400,000 Russians die every year because of illnesses caused by smoking.
Russians are skeptical
“The solution to the problem of smoking lies, of course, not in bans, but in helping those who want to quit,” wrote famous blogger Anton Nosik. “Who wants to smoke will smoke.”
Others think that strict measures can only lead to an increase in corruption.
“In order to have doubts, one only has to walk through any train, where anyone who feels like it smokes right under the ‘no smoking’ signs,” wrote nickola-r. “It is not a question of how heavy the punishment is, but of its inevitability. And we don’t have that. Who will enforce the law? The cops, of whom 99 per cent smoke like chimneys?”
“Ban the sales and production of tobacco in any shape, and I will be the first to quit smoking and start jogging,” wrote blogger Andrei Kuprikov. “But while tobacco is being legally sold, do not limit my rights in consuming it, and leave millions of people enjoying the great taste and aroma in peace.”
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