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Russia Declares War on Nicotine
July 23, 2008 15:28

Russian authorities initiated a heavy anti-smoking campaign comparable to the one seen in the USA in the 1990s. Russian officials, quickened by the last week’s speech of the Russian president, decided the measures should be taken immediately. The chief sanitary officer of the country, Gennady Onishchenko, declared a real war on tobacco companies, having accused them of “nicotine genocide” of the Russian citizens. Experts believe the campaign is well-timed, but requires to be implemented carefully – some restrictions may cause rebel among numerous smokers.

Smoking is a scourge of the modern Russian society. For the last 20 years the number of smokers increased by 440 thousand – 60% of men and 30% of women in Russia smoke today. Mr. Onishchenko thinks the Tobacco Industry Development Council – Professional Tobacco Association of Russia – is in charge of growing cigarette consumption in Russia. In his opinion, the Association angles for high-nicotine and low-quality cigarettes become the most popular with customers.

The Federal Supervision Service for Consumer Rights Protection and Human Welfare seeks to bring the culprits to justice as soon as possible.

The management of the tobacco association opposes the high words said by the chief sanitary officer. They claim the Russian tobacco industry exports its production to Europe, which testifies its finest quality and compliance with European requirements. The representatives of Phillip Morris Sales and Marketing say all affiliate companies operating in Russia produce high-quality tobacco, meeting all standards and requirements of the Russian legislation.

Somehow, Gennady Onishchenko’s angry speech may well take effect very soon. Russia has already cut import of wine and fruit from Moldova and Georgia, and many remember a sad story about Polish meat. Russian president and Prime minister are concerned with the health of the nation (at least they say so), thus, their support to the new anti-smoking law is evident.

There is another reason to sue the leaders of Russian tobacco industry, British American Tobacco, Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco: they misinform customers by making packs saying the cigarettes inside are “light” and less dangerous. This is absolutely wrong, light cigarettes also damage your lungs, that is why “light” signs are banned in 46 countries.

Besides, experts say cigarette packs lack information about tobacco carcinogens smokers know nothing about.

Other experts see filing the lawsuit against tobacco giants to be effective enough. Social campaign encouraging healthy lifestyle could be a better means to make people quit smoking. Winning the lawsuit is not going to change the situation globally, therefore, other steps should be made to protect the national health. The government must 12 times increase excise duties on tobacco up to the European level and impose a blanket ban on cigarette adverts. Smoking epidemic can be stopped, though it will take time.


    Russian Business


Olga Pletneva

Tags: Smoking in Russia     

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