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Government Butts Out: Russia Puts Few Limits on Cigarettes

The average life expectancy of a Russian man is only 60 years old. That may have something to do with the fact that 60 percent of Russian males smoke cigarettes. In addition, the number of women smokers has doubled since the end of communism. The country's population will drop 21 million people between 2000 and 2025. And thanks to no taxes, packs of cigarettes go for 25 cents in Russia.

But you won't see many antismoking ads in Russia. When a sizable portion of the population would not favor cigarette regulation, the government shies away from curbing smoking. History has taught Russian leaders that if they try to get the people to kick their vices, the withdrawal symptoms will include protests and unrest. During cigarette shortages of the 1980s, there were smoker uprisings in the streets of major cities, and Mikhail Gorbachev begged international cigarette makers to send an emergency supply.

The country's current chief health inspector is aware of the problem. He's called on foreign tobacco companies to stop "nicotine genocide" and he may have smokers pay more for insurance, according to the New York Times. While it could help to deter current smokers with higher pack prices and insurance costs, hopefully Russia will do something to help stop the next generation from picking up the habit.


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