Big Tobacco Fights Russian Crackdown

Kremlin pushes for strict anti-smoking laws

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 16, 2012 1:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – With cigarettes only costing a dollar a pack and next to no restrictions on smoking in place, Russia is a smoker's paradise compared to most Western nations—and that's just how tobacco giants want it to stay. The government of Russia, the world's second-largest tobacco market after China, is planning to finally crack down on the country's high smoking rates, but it is facing stiff opposition from the four firms that control more than 90% of the market, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Around 40% of Russians smoke and the habit kills around 400,000 of them every year. By volume, smoking rates have soared 51% since 1998. The government plans to hike the tobacco tax, ban cigarette advertising, and limit smoking in bars and restaurants. "This is going to be a harsh measure, but it is absolutely necessary," a government spokesman says. "It will take time—maybe another generation—but we will succeed in defeating smoking and promoting a healthy lifestyle."

Two Russian women smoke in downtown Vladivostok.
Two Russian women smoke in downtown Vladivostok.   (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Some 60% of Russian men smoke.
Some 60% of Russian men smoke.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky, file)
A Russian teenager smokes outside the Kremlin.
A Russian teenager smokes outside the Kremlin.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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