Russia - finance minister urges citizens to smoke and drink more to lift tax revenues..

Another generation of smokers..

September 2, 2010 -
Smoke and drink more, Russia’s finance minister Alexei Kudrin urged citizens to smoke and drink more on Wednesday, August 31st explaining that higher consumption would help lift tax revenues for spending on social services.

'If you smoke a pack of cigarettes, that means you are giving more to help solve social problems such as boosting demographics, developing other social services and upholding birth rates,’ Kudrin said, quoted by the Interfax news agency. ‘People should understand: Those who drink, those who smoke are doing more to help the state,’ he said, offering unconventional advice as the Russian government announced plans to raise excise duty on alcohol and cigarettes.

Alcohol and cigarette consumption are already extremely high in Russia, where 65
percent of men smoke and the average Russian consumes 18 litres of alcoholic beverages per year, mainly vodka, according to official statistics.

Background: Moscow's top doctor said on March 15, 2010 smoking was leading to a "national catastrophe." Dr. Leonid Lazebnik painted a grim picture of the harm that tobacco was causing Russians, telling a round table that 65 percent of men and 30 percent of women have smoked at some time in their lives. In contrast, Lazebnik said, the figures in the mid-1980s were 48 percent of men and 5 percent of women.

He said 24.6 percent of Muscovites (a native or resident of Moscow )are smokers. "But the scariest thing of all is our future," Lazebnik said. "In Moscow, 73 percent of boys and 65 percent of girls smoke. I see this as a national catastrophe."

Russsia - 73 percent of boys and 65 percent of girls smoke...

Russia's population is decreasing at a loss of about 700,000 to 800,000 citizens each year dying. Russia has a very high death rate of 15 deaths per 1000 people per year. This is far higher than the world's average death rate of just under 9. (Russia's Population Set to Decline From 143 Million Today to 111 Million in 2050)

Russia's bleak picture of health, CNN by Grace Wong, 5/19/2009.
Russian duties on cigarettes are among the lowest in Europe, with most brands priced at around 40 rubles ($1.30) per pack and unfiltered cigarettes selling for much less.
The finance ministry in June announced plans to more than double excise duty on cigarettes over the next three years from 250 roubles per 1,000 filtered cigarettes to 590 roubles in 2013. (Russia - Finance Ministry skeptical about raising taxes on tobacco..)

The state recently imposed a new minimum legal price for vodka, implemented a zero tolerance ban on drink-driving and banned night-time sales of alcohol to curb abuse blamed for the deaths of thousands of Russians every year.

Alcohol abuse kills around 500,000 Russians annually and greatly impacts male life expectancy, which is lower than in such developing countries as Bangladesh and Honduras, according to official figures.

Reference: Russians urged to smoke, drink more, Reuters - The Windsor Star, 9/1/2010.

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