Russia Finally Gets the Memo…

By Wendy Wohlfeill

Russia’s love affair with smoking may soon come to an end.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin approved an anti-smoking program earlier this month that will aim to eliminate a quarter of Russia’s current smokers.

Reports show that over half of the country’s population smoke and over 80 percent are exposed to second hand smoke daily. Even more alarming is that over half a million people are dying yearly from smoke related sicknesses.

The program will take baby-steps by first outlawing all tobacco advertising by 2012 before banning smoking in all public spaces by 2015.

After watching U.S. cities slowly ban smoking over the last ten years, this doesn’t seem like an unattainable goal. Been there, done that…..right?

Well I think it may be a little more difficult for Russia who is reported to be one of the world’s largest clients of cigarettes. As of today smoking is still allowed in public places such as office building, theaters and on public transportation. The health ministry just a few months ago finally forced manufacturers to put anti-smoking messages on cigarette packs, which warn of lung cancer, wrinkles and impotence.

Banning all smoking in public places in five years time sounds like a hefty goal to me, but one that is needed.  Just remind me not to visit Russia when over half it’s population is trying to quit.

Read the article on Reuters here.

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