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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

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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