'Smoking kills', Russians told29th June 2010
Confronted with rising numbers of smokers, Russia has stepped-up its anti-smoking efforts by putting the words 'smoking kills' on packets of cigarettes.
In Russia, smoking causes as many as half a million deaths each year.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 60% of Russian men smoke, and the number of female smokers has been increasing steadily since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Tobacco use was also rampant during the Soviet Union, however, and in 1990, a shortage of Russian-made cigarettes led people to riot in the streets of the three biggest Russian cities.
The protests, known as the 'tobacco rebellion', led Mikhail Gorbachev to appeal for an emergency shipment from other countries.
According to the United Nations, Russia's population is gradually shrinking, partly due to people's poor lifestyle choices, and may shrink by about 30 million by 2050.
In 2008, Russia registered its intent to ban smoking in public places by joining the WHO anti-smoking convention.
Now, the Russian ministry of health has decided to adopt pretty much the same standards as the European Union, in order to send an anti-smoking message to people.
The new cigarette pack warning will cover no less than 30% of the front side of the package and half of the back side, and include information about nicotine and toxic substances in the cigarettes.
The Russian health ministry said that introducing technical regulations of tobacco production was one step to limit the use and spread of tobacco production in Russia.
According to the Association of Tobacco Producers, about 409 billion cigarettes were made in Russia last year alone.
That means that 2,900 cigarettes were produced per capita.
Out of all the international tobacco firms, three tobacco companies have an almost complete monopoly of the Russian tobacco market: Japan Tobacco Inc., British American Tobacco plc, and Philip Morris International.
Billboard cigarette ads have also changed significantly over the past several years.
Russian cigarettes are still very affordable, however, and filtered cigarettes sell for about 1 euro a pack.
While some restaurants and public places were supposed to be smoke-free from the beginning of 2010, many are still very smoky.
In June, the Russian Ministry of Finance said that it planned to increase tobacco taxes.
However, the increase will not even double the price of cigarettes, and the proposed tax is much lower than the one set up by previous anti-smoking legislation.
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Title: 'Smoking kills', Russians told
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 15331
Date Added: 29th Jun 2010