The International Union Against Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (The Union) congratulates the Russian Federation on the adoption of a comprehensive tobacco control law, signed into force by President Vladimir Putin on 25 February 2013. The law includes establishment of 100% smokefree environments, bans on giveaways and sponsorship, restrictions on point-of-sale displays, and measures to limit tobacco industry interference.
The new law "On protecting the health of citizens from the danger of passive smoking and the consequences of the use of tobacco" has the potential to drastically improve the health of Russians. 40% of Russian adults are smokers meaning that Russia has one of the highest rates of smoking in the world (Global Adult Tobacco Survey, 2009).
The new law will ban smoking in medical facilities, sport and cultural venues, public playgrounds and beaches, government buildings, and elevators and stairwells in apartment buildings from June 2013. In June 2014, the ban will be extended to cover hotels, cafes, bars, shopping areas, and public transport and terminals. As part of the 100% smokefree environments, the sale of tobacco products will be banned in transportation terminals, cultural and sporting venues, educational and medical facilities, and within 100 meters of educational institutions.
'We congratulate the Federation of Russia on their new law', said Dr Nils Billo, Executive Director of The Union. 'The Union has long-championed smokefree environments as necessary to safeguarding public health. In Russia the need for these measures has been acute.'
Half of Russians using restaurants or cafeterias are exposed to second-hand smoke. 90% frequenting clubs and bars are exposed. Even visiting medical facilities, schools and government buildings has posed considerable risk of exposure to second-hand smoke.
In May 2013, The Union will be running its new workshop on Smokefree enforcement and implementation in Moscow to assist government officials to plan for effective roll-out of the new smoking bans.
The new law also bans tobacco companies from conducting free product giveaways, undertaking brand-stretching marketing to other products, or sponsoring events or individuals: all methods by which the tobacco industry seeks to attract new smokers. Smoking among young people is a particular problem in Russia with 27% of boys and 24% of girls aged 13 to 15 acknowledging themselves as cigarette users. Point-of-sale displays will also be banned from 2014, which will further limit the potential for tobacco advertising.
Under the law, the tobacco industry will also be restricted from writing to government officials or agencies, unless the correspondence is posted publicly online. This requirement will make it easier for public health legislators to introduce further tobacco control measures in future without industry interference.