Russia launches massive campaign to isolate smokers

An open public debate on the bill of the Health Ministry "On protection of human health from the consequences of tobacco consumption" started in Russia. The project was developed in connection with the accession of the Russian Federation to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. It will also fulfill the government's Action Plan on implementation of the concept of public policy on combating tobacco consumption in 2010-2015.

Deputy Minister of Health and Social Development Yuri Voronin at a press conference on Friday said that the document should become a statutory framework to ensure the health of citizens from the consequences of tobacco use by implementing a set of restrictive measures to reduce tobacco consumption and leveling the effects of tobacco on human health.

Nearly a year ago the State Duma developed a version of the law "On Restriction of Tobacco," K2K reported then. According to the deputy chairman of the Duma's Health Committee Nikolai Gerasimenko, the bill mandated the sale of cigarettes and related products only in special licensed kiosks.

In addition, owners of bars and restaurants should provide smokers with isolated rooms equipped with their own ventilation system. In practice, this meant that it takes time to implement these requirements. Under the law, the businesses still have time to resolve these issues. In this case the ban on smoking in schools, indoor sports facilities, elevators, and public transportation was to come into force six months after the adoption of the law, noted

The situation has long demanded government attention. Today there are 43.9 million people in Russia, according to the global survey of adults about tobacco use (GATS). The vast majority of people in Russia support the ban on smoking in public places. 82.5% of Russians favor a complete ban on tobacco advertising.

GATS Research showed that nearly 35% of Russians are exposed to secondhand smoke at work. 90.5% of people who visit bars and 78.6% of people who visit restaurants are forced to inhale tobacco smoke. This violation of rights of non-smoking individuals must be completely eliminated, according to the developers of the law. Tobacco advertising will also disappear completely, and manufacturers of tobacco products will be banned from sponsorship. It is planned that smoking will be prohibited in all films and television shows made after the adoption of the document.

Voronin said that "we have placed the bill on the ministry's website and opened a forum for public discussion of all provisions, where anyone can express their point of view, provide additions, comments and suggestions." It contains things "that we talked about and debated in the parliament and government, these are internationally recognized obligations that we joined and now consistently deliver on our promises."

According to Voronin, all proposals made during the public discussion of the bill will be carefully studied. Proposals from the concerned ministries and agencies will also be taken into account in the finalization of the bill, RIA Novosti reported.

The chief specialist of the Health Ministry Leo Bokeria has called the bill limiting tobacco consumption a remarkable document, which should have been accepted long ago. He thinks that the law will have hard time because of the opposition in the Duma. Chairman of the Board of the International Confederation of Consumer Societies Dmitry Yanin added that "foreign tobacco companies that have over 90% of the market share in Russia will oppose the law. They only agreed that kindergartens should not have smoking areas." It is clear that tobacco companies are also reluctant to ban tobacco advertising and want to continue sponsorship of public events. Thus, the expressed view of the citizens about the new bill may acquire additional weight in the eyes of the government, because the decision is long overdue.

Valentin Vasspard.

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov