Russia, one of the most heavily smoking nations in the world is cracking down on tobacco use. I’m honestly kind of shocked by this.
Russia passed a smoking ban that had already been implemented at schools, public transportation and hospitals. Now, part two of the ban is coming into play — bans on smoking in restaurants, cafes and hotels (apparently not bars, yet, however.).
Russia joins most of the rest of Europe in implementing various levels of smoking bans.
In addition, according to this article from the French Press Agency, Russia has also raised the taxes on cigarettes, more than doubling the price of a pack from 25 rubles in 2010 to 59 rubles in 2014. (Still cheap, that’s $1.25 Euros vs. $1.70 Euros per pack).
Here is a funny article from NBC News about Russians complaining about the smoking bans, one of them saying, “We are a doomed country.” (Oh, Christ that reminds me of the some of the doom and gloom stuff from smokers’ rights weasels in the U.S. 10 years ago about smoking bans.).
Russia, like much of Eastern Europe, is a region of the world where people smoke heavily. According to this article, 40 million of the 143 million people in Russia smoke, about 28 percent, compared to about 19 percent in the U.S. And according to the same article, about 400,000 people in Russia die every year from smoking -related illnesses.
Unfortunately, Russia basically being the Wild, Wild west, especially when it comes to tobacco control, I fully expect these smoking bans to be flouted by a lot of people. The higher tax rate on cigarettes has created a huge black market in Russia, with dealers buying cigs in Belarus or Kazakhstan. Still in the French Agency article, tobacco officials concede their sales are dropping, and that blaming the black market is an excuse.