News / Europe

Despite Opposition, Russia Bans Smoking in Restaurants and Bars

FILE - A man smokes along a street in central Moscow
FILE - A man smokes along a street in central Moscow
Reuters
Russia risks igniting the ire of its 44 million smokers when it extends bans on cigarettes to restaurants and bars on Sunday as part of a battle to break the habit in one of heaviest-smoking countries in the world.

The ban is the latest measure under President Vladimir Putin to promote healthy lifestyles - which goes hand in hand with his support for what he calls traditional values - and stem a population decline that began after the Soviet breakup.

Putin's government hopes to reduce the share of the adult population that smokes from 39 percent, one of the highest rates in the world, to 25 percent by 2020.

"Thanks to this law people understand that smoking is bad and that smoking around others is a crime," said Sergei Kalashnikov, head of the Public Health Committee in the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament.

"The point has been forcefully made and people will be punished for ignoring the law,'' said Kalashnikov, who represents the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party.

Russia began introducing tougher controls on smoking last summer, banning smoking in government buildings and advertising by tobacco companies.

From June 1, smoking will also be banned in bars, restaurants, hotels and on trains, and cigarettes will no longer be on display in shops or sold in kiosks. Many other nations already have similar restrictions.

"We relied on U.S. and European research for this law. In this respect, we completely trust our colleagues in the West,'' Kalashnikov said, adding that foreign tobacco firms - which control about 90 percent of the $20 billion Russian market - had lobbied intensely against the law.

Stringent Regulation

International tobacco companies, whose dwindling sales in Western markets have been offset for years by hefty Russian consumption, say the new rules go too far.

Alexander Lyuty, communications director at British American Tobacco in Moscow, said data showing that Russia's tobacco market shrank 7 percent last year failed to take account of surging contraband imports from other Soviet republics.

"Cigarette prices are rising faster than consumers' disposable incomes. This triggers an inflow of contraband and reduces sales of legal cigarettes in the market,'' he said.

Kalashnikov said the government was planning a further hike in excise taxes, which have already risen sharply this year, to increase pressure on smokers to quit.

Excise taxes typically account for 60 percent of the price of a pack of cigarettes in Europe, while in Russia they still only make up 17 percent of the cost, he said.

Roman Grinchenko, an analyst at Investcafe, said tougher regulation was likely to apply "significant pressure" to tobacco producers but that its financial impact was hard to quantify.

Fewer Customers

Bar and restaurant owners are fiercely opposed, fearing bans will cut business. Egor, 24, a barman working in central Moscow, said: "People are going to think: Why should I go to bars if they're not going to let me smoke there?"

According to a recent poll by the independent Russian pollster, Levada Center, 82 percent of Russian restaurateurs expect customer numbers to drop from Sunday.

The World Health Organization says that smoking kills 5.4 million people worldwide every year. But for Russia's hardened smokers, the ban is nothing short of discrimination.

"I can understand those who want to prevent young people smoking. But when a law is passed which is in essence a law on the genocide of smokers - that I can't understand,'' said Mikhail Barshchevsky, a lawyer, at a recent smokers' rights conference.

"The law is senseless and won't be observed," he said.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid