Russia - launches anti-smoking program, maybe they're serious this time..

October 12, 2010 - Russian launches a national anti-tobacco program as the country, with a smoking population of 43.9 million, ranks first in the world in the number of smokers. Russian Health Minister, Tatyana Golikova, says Russia ranks ahead of such big cigarette consumers as Egypt and Mexico in a World Health Organization report. (Male Smokers - countries 2002..)

"One hundred thousand Russians die every year from smoking-related diseases. 43.9 million people in Russia smoke, thus 39 percent of the population," said the Minister.

An average Russian lights 17 cigarettes a day. Every year 400 billion cigarettes are sold in the country. A pack of cigarettes costs less than a dollar, the same as a loaf of bread which makes it available to all.

There has been rapid growth in the number of female and teen-aged smokers in the country. The number of women smoking in Russia has doubled to 20 percent over the last two decades. The number could reach 30 percent in the near future if no effort is made to prevent it, a Press TV correspondent reported.

The government plans to increase taxes on tobacco products by tenfold to a European level. A national anti-smoking program envisions a full ban on tobacco advertising and on smoking in public places.

Prime Minister Putin approved the plan, urging cabinet members to set an example. "How will we fight against it? You should lead by example," he said.

The program aims to slash the number of smokers in Russia by 15 percent while the number of people who inhale secondary smoke is expected to fall from 80 to 40 percent.

Reference: VIDEO - Russia launches anti-smoking program. Press TV, 10/9/2010.

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