Saturday May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, and from Sunday June 1, smoking in Russia will be banned in bars, restaurants, hotels and trains.
It is President Vladimir Putin’s latest measure to promote a healthy lifestyle, something that goes hand in hand with his support for what he calls traditional values.
Restaurant owner Vadim Rokhlin said: “Yes, this law is needed; yes, we need to reduce smoking; yes, we need to fight for people’s health.”
Rokhlin asked, “…what do we do with those people who can’t fight it themselves. We need to think of something separate for them.”
Many other bar and restaurant owners are opposed. They fear the ban will be bad for business.
Some of Russia’s hardened smokers say it’s nothing short of discrimination.
Andrey Loskutov from Russia’s movement for the rights of smokers explains that the ban is not against tobacco or even tobacco manufacturers, but rather, “a law against smokers, against good people, taxpayers who earned their money, paid their taxes, went shopping, want to smoke and are told no, absolutely no.”
In Russia, tobacco tax makes up just 17 percent of the cost, compared to around 60 percent of the price of a packet of cigarettes in Europe.
Tobacco use is the single most preventable cause of death globally, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
For World Tobacco Day, the WHO is calling on countries to raise tobacco taxes to reduce tobacco consumption.