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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.


Join The Conversation
FitZucchero FitZucchero 8 years
I travel to Russia a lot on business (just Moscow) and the first time I went, I became horribly sick from the amount of smoke and pollution just stepping off the plane. It's really that overwhelming. What makes something like this even more unsettling is when you take into consideration the price of everything else in Moscow. An average cup of Joe is going to run you approximately $10 a cup, but vodka and cigs? That'll just run you a buck fifty. Someone hit the nail in the head earlier, people do it because it's an affordable luxury. And I DO think people will quit when you tax it enough. I'm testimony to that. Mayor Bloomberg helped me quick that habit cold turkey. When it's a choice between paying rent and keeping up smoking, guess which I chose?
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
GS... :ROTFL: Also, I didn't realize they had play areas. The only thing I know about that chain is that they took over my neighborhood Krispy Kreme location, and I will hate them forever for that.
janneth janneth 8 years
I bet the health care system is really good in Russia too.
janneth janneth 8 years
Nicotine genocide, so true. Ask some of the Asian countries.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
I'm sure the sprite didn't help ;)
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
I agree. Both emotions passed through me. So did the bucket of sprite I drank there. :wink:
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
:rotfl: GS! That's really funny! And yet kinda
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
:rotfl: I was playing with my daughter in the Chick-filet playground a couple of weeks ago and a little girl who could be between 9 and 12 came in. The whole thing is built with a glass wall around it so her parents were completely visible sitting in a booth right outside. At first they were sitting on opposite sides of the table, then the dad got up and sat by his wife. Lol, then he had the audacity to kiss his wife sweetly. I hear, "OMG!! They are absolutely embarrassing!" :rotfl: She actually said the letters o, m, g. I tried so hard not to laugh but couldn't help it.
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
Being a California girl, I hear it this way more often.. "Like, oh my god, like, forGET about it!" (insert hair flip emoticon)
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
lol, ah, there it is! I am in Texas, I don't hear that much!
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
GS I think that's..."Fuggetaboutit" :rotfl:
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
lol, when I was in New York a couple of years ago, we caught a mets game. During the seventh inning stretch I went for a beer and passed what looked like extras for Sopranos smoking right under the no smoking sign in the stadium. lol, I loved it. Forgit aboud dit.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
well - smoking is one of those things that will be complicated and expensive to ban. i think that we've seen in NYC even that just by telling ppl that they can't smoke indoors - that doesn't stop them. by putting high taxes on cigs - that doesn't stop them. i think that it's just changing the actions of the younger generation and make them realize that they DON'T want to smoke and that it's not sexy and all that -
chocolatine chocolatine 8 years
Everyone in Russia knows how bad smoking is - people aren't stupid. It's just that life is so depressing for so many people there that they don't necessarily want to live beyond 60 years. And cigarettes is one of the very few luxuries they can afford, so they figure they might as well keep smoking. Also, most Russians have no faith in or respect for the government whatsoever, so the more the government tries to stop them from smoking, the more they'll smoke out of spite.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
Do people out there really not know that cigarettes are bad for you? I guess to me this is sad but it's also a case of willingly and slowly killing yourself.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Nice, bluesarahlou :)
supercharger5150 supercharger5150 8 years
I just sent my coworker this story since he's the only one in the office that smokes (small business) and he said: "I would imagine that they are no less than 25% sawdust and sh*t they swept off the floor of the cig factory". Ew, just ew!
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 8 years
So let me get this straight. Russian government: Smoking-OK! South Park-Not OK? :ponder:
mswender mswender 8 years
I do think Russia is an amazing place though.
mswender mswender 8 years
I have been to Russia and seen what looked to be a 8 year old boy smoking. I just think that is so scary! Everyone smokes there!
Marni7 Marni7 8 years
That makes sense, if they are dead they wont be able to protest or cause any unrest. Smoking is a personal choice and no one should be forced to stop BUT they should at least make the people aware of the potential dangers as well. Not letting them know is socially irresponsible beyond belief
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