The Russian Government is considering implementing a nation-wide ban of tobacco in 2033. The decision would mark the last step in the country’s fight against rising smoking rates, but has also drawn some criticism.
Smoking is bad for you, m’kay? It is one of the world’s leading causes of preventable chronic disease and takes a huge toll on future generations. Cigarette butts are also probably the most littered item in the world, so your smoking is bad for everything else around you too.
Banning the vice
Just to come clean here, I’m also a smoker. So I don’t judge. I do try to advise others from picking up the habit, however, and am in a constant state of quitting myself. And people in developed countries have generally smarted up and smoking rates drop here but they’re still going strong in developing and third world countries.
Part of the problem is that the US and EU maintain a freedom-of-choice-view on the issue. Without any serious legal precedent to limit its use, big tobacco can pour resources to strong-arm these states into passing favorable legislature. Together with populations who are rarely informed of the full implications of smoking, these countries are prime targets for tobacco companies.
Russia is considering tackling smoking in a whole different way, though. The country’s government is considering a total ban on tobacco and tobacco products for 2033. In effect, this will ban every generation born 2015 and later from legally purchasing tobacco in the country. This would be the nation’s last move in their effort to bring its huge smoking rate down to 25% by 2025. Newspaper Izvestia also reports that some Russians have already kicked the habit over the last 7 years, with a 6% drop bringing the national smoking rate to 33%.
What to expect
The World Health Organization estimates that there are around 1.1 billion tobacco smokers worldwide. Though that number is falling overall, certain regions such as Africa and the Mediterranean see a steady rise in smoking rates. While taking the whole of Russia’s population out of that billion certainly is a solid idea, one can’t hope but be reminded of the American prohibition.
In the end, banning tobacco is bound to be easier said than done. Certain Russian politicians have also voiced their concern that black market tobacco sales will skyrocket following the ban. So it could simply prove too hard to enforce.
Still, with the huge social and economical cost associated with smoking, Russia will likely try to enforce the ban no matter how hard it proves to be.
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