Russia’s Medvedev calls for ban of tobacco ads
Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday called for a ban on all tobacco ads as the government prepares a bill that would also phase out smoking in public.
World Health Organisation says that some 40 per cent of Russia’s adult population smokes, more than in any other country. A pack of cigarettes in Russia costs between one and two dollars and clouds of smoke hover in most Russian bars and restaurants.
In a video message posted on his blog on Tuesday, Medvedev listed the dismal statistics and insisted that the government’s clampdown is not targeting smokers, but smoking.
The government will consider a bill this month that would ban all tobacco ads, gradually ban smoking in all public places by 2015 and raise the price of cigarettes, a radical step for a country where 44 million adults light up.
About 400,000 Russians die every year of smoke-related causes, which Medvedev described as a “terrifying figure equivalent to the population of one big city”.
The number of smokers in Russia has increased over the past two decades while tobacco prices are hardly regulated and smoking ads are largely unrestricted.
WHO statistics show that the rate of female smoking in Russia shot up from just seven per cent in 1992 to 22 per cent in 2010.
Medvedev said the planned clampdown should benefit children and teenagers. He said that 90 per cent of Russian smokers take up the habit before they turn 20.
“Our children get used to tobacco smoke when they’re still babies and have their first cigarette in middle school, that’s why we cannot talk about smoking as a free choice of an adult,” the prime minister said.
Medvedev called on Russians to support the bill, insisting that it will focus on smoking and tobacco companies, not on smokers.
“We can no longer tolerate tobacco companies making profits from our children and turning them into life-time tobacco consumers. It’s immoral.”