According to RadioFreeEurope, the Russian Health Ministry has proposed a ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after the year 2014, even if they turn 18, which is the legal age for smoking in Russia.
They expect the ban to take place in 2033, but similar efforts have already been put into motion seeing that Russia has already banned smoking in cafes and restaurants. Although a ban on cigarettes is most likely going to spur a black market, the Russian Health Ministry stands behind the decision, seeing that at least 300,000 Russians die each year from diseases related to smoking tobacco.
Banning an obvious health hazard
The main backer of the proposal appears to be Health Minister Veronika Skvortsova, who signed a document that details a plan to reduce nationwide smoking, starting this year and up to 2022. Even if the central government has not approved the decision, seeing past efforts by Putin’s Russia to curb smoking, the plan might be a reality.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov assured that the Kremlin has yet to take a position concerning the plan issued by Skortsova on behalf of the Health Ministry.
Pro-tobacco activists compare the ban to the recent measure against artificial marijuana, or “spice,” where many entities still sell the substance even when its prohibition is lawfully enforced.
In 2014 spice caused dozens of deaths and hundreds of hospitalizations in Russia, rapidly replacing lethal drugs such as heroin and krokodil, an artificial opiate that rots the skin of the consumer.
“You can’t get it at kiosks anymore because they’ve already closed them down, but spice sellers write telephone numbers on the pavement, and everybody in the neighborhood knows each other anyway,” stated to Vice News an attendee to the funeral of a spice overdose victim in Russia.
Many are expecting tobacco to take the same path as spice, where a black market will make itself visible, and little will be done to completely curb the use of the drug.
According to research performed by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, people that smoke even a single cigarette per day had a 64 percent higher risk of suffering an early death, compared to those who had not smoked in their lives. Participants of the study that smoked between one to ten cigarettes every day had an 87 percent higher risk of a premature death.
Curiously enough, the first country that started a decisive anti-tobacco movement was Nazi Germany in the early 1940s, mostly because the Nazi reproductive policies encouraged people to remain healthy.
Smoking in public transportation vehicles was prohibited and cigarette rations in the army were reduced. Hitler was a heavy smoker when he was younger but then considered the product a poetic vengeance by the Native American against the Caucasian men.