You know what I have been hoping for for a long-long time to happen in Russia?! Yeah, I know the list is endless, but one of my wishes is about to come true. From June 2014 smoking will be banned in cafes, restaurants and bars! Whoop-whoop. It always annoyed me terribly how the best seats are always for smokers in Russia. Top floor with cozy sofas in a restaurant, or that lovely table beside the window were always designated for ‘puffing’ visitors. So soon I will be enjoying pasta in my local restaurant without irritating smoke. Whereas I have little concern about implementation of that law indoors, I have less faith regarding the effectiveness of the smoking ban outside near entranceways, bus stations etc.
As of June 1  smoking in Russia has been banned in offices, work zones, public buildings, schools, medical institutions, entranceways, elevators, children’s play areas, on public transport, beaches, and inside or anywhere within 50 feet of an entrance to subways, airports and rail stations. (rbth.ru)
A new amendment to the anti-smoking bill (passed in November 2013) now requires an administrative action against violators of the ban. This means that police should warn and fine people who are caught smoking closer than 15 meters to any public places.
Hmmmm, 3 months have gone by since the passing of the amendment to the anti-tobacco law, and I still see people right outside the metro, hospitals, universities, and train stations smoking away without even looking concerned that they might get fined (fine is about £30 ($ 49 )). Last month I went to Paveletsky rail terminal to meet my friend coming from Domodedovo airport. I decided to wait for her outside (after stuffy underground it seemed like a good idea), but it soon became impossible to breath as everyone next to me was smoking! Even the security guys! (Those two were smoking cigarette after cigarette, I guess they were cold and bored).
Recent experiment from the journalist Vika Lobanova from gorod.afisha.ru proves that no one really cares about smoking in public places. The journalist smoked next to entrances to universities, hospitals, theaters, tube and train stations, and even play grounds. Not even a single person said anything! More than that, security guards came outside for a smoke as well. She even puffed around a group of police men on the Red Square. Oh, well, I myself today saw a group of doctors or interns smoking outside a hospital…
Journalist Vika is smoking next to the Sklifosovsky Institute. Photo by Andrej Nikitin. gorod.afisha.ru
Why is everyone so ignorant to that?! Well, Smoking became an integral part of the Russian society. We come second in cigarette consumption in the world, outnumbered only by China (source: who.int). According to the World Health Organization statistics 36 per cent of Russians over the age of 15 are regular smokers. That is 30,6 million men and 13,3 million women! (source: rg.ru – text in Russian).
I think the idea of not smoking indoors, say in cafes, will sink in almost straight away – because the fine for businesses for abusing the law is around 90 thousand rubles (£1,570 , $2,560), and I’m sure they will be vigilant about abiding the law, but the idea of not being allowed a cigarette outside in the fresh air is harder to digest… even for the police who are the ones responsible for taking action (only administrative) against smokers in public areas.
Lack of police control is cited as one of the reasons why Russia’s efforts to limit smoking in public spaces will likely have little effect on the habits of its citizens. ( rbth.ru)
According to the World Health Organization around 6 million people on the planet die of smoking related problems. 600 thousand people die from passive smoking (source: gazeta.ru). Therefore, I totally support the ban on smoking in public places. Another initiative which I like and support is prohibition of any tobacco related advertising in media. Tobacco companies will also not be able to sponsor any events or use their products in any promotions. Smoking will disappear from movies and cartoons. I’m not sure what will happen to old movies and cartoons… What about Sherlock with his pipe, or any other famous characters? Well, I hope they won’t ban old films! ;)
I’m eagerly waiting for the first of June this year for some smoke free eating out experience! :)