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New Law Could Hit Russian Smokers With Massive Cigarette Price Hike

Published: May 30, 2014 (Issue # 1813)



  • Some 40 percent of Russians are habitual smokers, resulting in up to 400,000 deaths from tobacco-related diseases annually.
    Photo: For SPT

As Russians brace themselves for a public smoking ban to come into effect on Sunday, lawmakers have submitted a new draft law hiking the minimum price on cigarettes in the latest bid to change the country's attitude to smoking.

The new law would see a 41-percent increase in the minimum price for cigarettes by April 1, 2015, from 39 rubles ($1.13) to 55 rubles ($1.60) a pack, as part of a massive government campaign to reduce the number of smokers in the country.

Viktor Zvagelsky, deputy chairman of the State Duma's committee on economic policy, said the draft law would officially be submitted to lawmakers after recommendations and comments on it were received from the government.

The measure expands on a series of anti-smoking measures, the first part of which came into effect last June, including a ban on smoking in universities, sports facilities, stairwells of apartment buildings, bus stops, train stations and airports.

On June 1, the list will be expanded to include restaurants and cafes, imposing a fine of up to 1,500 rubles ($45) for smokers found in violation of the ban.

Gennady Onishchenko, the former head of the Federal Consumer Protection Service and a driving force behind the anti-smoking law, on Wednesday praised the smoking ban, saying he believed it would save millions of lives.

"Many [smokers] will quit. Enough already of this apathetic attitude to one's own health and the health of loved ones. In a month, of course, the law won't save hundreds of thousands of lives. But if all measures are taken, it will allow for millions of lives to ultimately be saved. Unfortunately, we have a lot of smokers," Onishchenko told news agency Interfax.

Some 40 percent of Russians are habitual smokers, resulting in up to 400,000 deaths from tobacco-related diseases annually, according to the World Health Organization's Global Adult Tobacco Survey.

The government's anti-smoking campaign may have already made an impact, however. ITAR-TASS on Wednesday cited a Health Ministry official as saying the number of smokers in the country had fallen over the past year.

Marina Shevyreva, director of the department of protecting health at the Health Ministry, said she believed the campaign was to thank for the reduced number of smokers. Within three years, she said, the number of patients hospitalized for smoking-related illnesses would likely fall substantially.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Aug. 20


AmCham gets back to business after a summer hiatus with todays EHS Committee Working Group Meeting. Check their website for more details.



Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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