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MOSCOW, May 30. /ITAR-TASS/. From Sunday, June 1, smoking in Russia will be allowed only out in the open, though not everywhere, and at home: according to the second part of the legislation adopted last year aimed at protecting people from the negative impact of tobacco smoke and health effects of smoking. The ban will be introduced in cafes, restaurants, hotels and dormitories, long-haul trains and on the platforms of local railway stations. Tobacco retail sale will be prohibited at railway stations, airports and in sea ports.
Many approve of the government’s uncompromised crusade, which will certainly cause an uproar among both smokers and owners of cafes who expect a decline in customer flow and profits.
Restaurants are sending ashtrays to dust bins. Warning signs will appear on the doors to prevent visitors’ absent-mindedness or ignorance. Apart from smoking zones, the law prohibits special smoking rooms in restaurants. Having a drag on an open terrace will also become inadmissible. In case of violation, a fine will be charged from both the smoker and the owner.
The new law will sweep away from restaurants smoking exotics such as hookah and cigars that used to attract plenty of visitors.
Sociological Levada-Center conducted a survey among 124 restaurant owners in 48 localities in April 2014 that showed 82% of respondents expect a strong customer exodus after June 1.
Meanwhile, 69% are sure smoking should be allowed in special rooms, whereas 26% insist on unlimited smoking. Only 5% of respondents expressed support for the total ban on smoking in restaurants.
Another anti-tobacco measure will affect the television where each program, film or music video depicting people smoking or just holding a packet of cigarettes is to be preceded with a special anti-smoking ad. Previously, the law prohibited demonstration of tobacco or smoking in all new films, except cases where this is an integral part of the artistic concept.
Statistics show 44 million Russians are smokers, that is about a third of the population, including children, whereas 80% is affected by smoke. Smoking is a habit for 60.7% of men and one in five women. More than 400,000 Russians die annually of smoking-related diseases.
“Smoking-related mortality might not be at the top of the list but occupies quite a wide niche,” said editor-in-chief of Demographia.net Igor Beloborodov. “Smoking not only affects the respiratory system but also causes problems with cardiovascular system and metabolic diseases.” Tightening screws against smokers is nothing new. Such policy accompanied by plenty of social advertising is pursued in Europe, and the time has proved these measures effective, the expert believes.
Co-Chairperson of the Russian Anti-Tobacco Advocacy Coalition Darya Khalturina believes a positive effect on people’s health will be obvious as early as in the first year.
“Experience shows that at first we see a reduction in tobacco consumption and rate of smoking-related diseases, in particular cardiovascular ones. Later follows a decline in oncological diseases,” she said.
Foreign practice provides evidence that the number of myocardial infarctions falls by an average of 17% within the first year from the date of the anti-smoking law taking effect and by a third within the first three years, Khalturina said.
The first part of the anti-tobacco legislation adopted last November seems to have brought results. According to the state statistical service Rosstat, the number of smokers in Russia dropped from 33.7% of adults in 2008 to 28.3% in 2013.
Last year's poll conducted by Russia Public Opinion Research (WCIOM) showed that 45% of respondents supported the law, while 49% opposed the new measures saying they would not help reduce smoking rate but only foster corruption.
The ban on all forms of advertising and tobacco companies’ sponsorship (79%), smoking in public and crowded places (76%), state regulation of the minimal and maximum cigarette prices (74%) and single-piece cigarette sales and distribution through vending machines (69%) gained the strongest support. Less unpopular are measures like prohibition of retail in stalls (60%), cigarette layout in stores (59%), image of smoking people in cinema and theatre (56%) and sales at railway stations, hotels etc. (55%).
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