Cigarettes to disappear from Russia’s store shelves in 2013

MOSCOW, August 16 (Itar-Tass) — Russia plans to ban smoking in public places and tobacco ads.

“In several years a smoker can easily smoke only in his/her own flat or on the street. Cigarettes should disappear from store shelves already in 2013,” the Rossiyskaya Gazeta governmental daily wrote on Tuesday.

Cigarettes will be sold without being shelved, while a consumer can choose what he would like to buy by a priced catalogue.

Chewing and sniffing tobacco can also face a similar ban.

Such strict measures are proposed in a draft law on protection of the population from effects of tobacco consumption prepared by the Health and Social Development Ministry.

Law makers propose a 100 percent smoking ban in public places, on tobacco products advertising and as well as higher fines for smoking in areas with no permission signs. They even propose the recording of tobacco producing equipment and tobacco distribution by analogy with recent innovative changes in the alcohol producing industry.

Such tough measures are taken as today Russia ranks first in the world by tobacco consumption, the daily reported.

“We have 44 million smokers and this increases the risk of premature mortality from tobacco-related diseases,” the head of the International Confederation of Consumer Societies, Dmitry Yanin, told the daily.

According to expert estimates, the average Russian smokes 17 cigarettes a day. Meanwhile, back in 2008 Russia ratified the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

“However, the first steps to fulfil the obligations we’ d taken we began to make only now, developing a progressive anti-tobacco draft law,” the co-chair of the anti-tobacco coalition, Darya Khalturina, said noting that such restrictions have been effective in France, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Britain, Austria, several U.S. states and Kazakhstan.

The ban on smoking in long-distance trains, ships, airports’ smoking rooms and entries to railway stations and airports no closer than 10 meters will enter into force in 2014. Smoking in hotels, cafes, nightclubs as well as in the movies and TV shows will be banned in 2015. Not only cigarettes, but also hookah smoking that became so popular among Russians falls under the new law.

By the number of hazardous substances a hookah session is equal to smoking of a cigarette pack, Dmitry Yanin said. This time-spending habit will most probably remain permitted only on verandas or in flats.

To reduce tobacco use in Russia, the draft law envisions an annual increase in prices for tobacco products to the level exceeding the consumer price index for food commodities. The draft law does not mention the size of a fine for smoking in non-smoking areas, but the expert expressed the hope that it will be no lower than that effective in Turkey – 50 dollars.

Police and Russia’s consumer rights watchdog should control how the law is observed, he said.

Experts believe that the law enshrines effective measures.

“If the draft law is adopted, we expect a decline of heart attacks by 30 percent for three years,” Darya Khalturina forecast.

If the draft law is submitted to the State Duma in September, it can be approved no earlier than in February 2012, Yanin said.


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